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Two Cubs employees test positive for COVID-19 virus

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CHICAGO — Two Chicago Cubs employees who attended an annual training session at Wrigley Field on March 8 have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

One was hospitalized and the other was recovering at home, spokesman Julian Green said Sunday.

Green also said there was “nothing definitive” indicating the session “contributed to exposure” since the test results weren’t received until March 23 and 24. But “out of an abundance of caution, transparency and responsibility,” the Cubs informed staff in an email on Friday.

“We know many of these associates know each other, spend time together and speak frequently so we want everyone to take the necessary precautions and follow CDC guidance even though we’re not together and playing baseball,” Green said.

The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the positive results.

The Cubs said in the email to staff they “reached out to both associates to offer our support.” They also urged employees to monitor their health closely and follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

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MLB rejects 114-game plan, tells union no counteroffer

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Major League Baseball has rejected the players’ offer for a 114-game regular season with no additional salary cuts and told the union it did not plan to make a counterproposal, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Players made their proposal Sunday, up from an 82-game regular season in management’s offer last week. Opening Day would be June 30, and the regular season would end Oct. 31, nearly five weeks after the Sept. 27 conclusion that MLB’s proposal stuck to from the season’s original schedule.

MLB told the union it had no interest in extending the season into November, when it fears a second wave of the coronavirus could disrupt the postseason and jeopardize $787 million in broadcast revenue.

While management has suggested it could play a short regular season of about 50 games with no more salary reductions, it has not formally proposed that concept. Earlier this week, multiple players told ESPN that they would not abide a shorter schedule, with one saying, “We want to play more games, and they want to play less. We want more baseball.”

The Athletic first reported on MLB rejecting the players’ offer.

Teams and players hope to start the season in ballparks with no fans, and teams say they would sustain huge losses if salaries are not cut more. The sides agreed to a deal March 26 in which players accepted prorated salaries in exchange for $170 million in advances and a guarantee that if the season is scrapped each player would get 2020 service time matching what the player accrued in 2019.

That deal called for “good faith” negotiations over playing in empty stadiums or at neutral sites. The union has said no additional cuts are acceptable.

MLB’s May 26 proposal would lower 2020 salaries from about $4 billion to approximately $1.2 billion, establishing a sliding scale of reductions. Players at the $563,500 minimum would get about 47% of their original salary, and those at the top — led by Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at $36 million — would receive less than 23%.

The union’s offer would have salaries total about $2.8 billion, leaving each player with about 70% of his original salary.

Information from ESPN’s Jeff Passan and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Pirates’ Chris Archer out until 2021 after surgery

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Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Chris Archer underwent surgery Tuesday to address thoracic outlet syndrome and will not pitch again until 2021.

The Pirates announced Wednesday that Archer had the operation after “consulting with several leading vascular and orthopedic surgeons in recent weeks.”

The surgery was performed in St. Louis by Dr. Robert Thompson. The Pirates say Archer is “projected to return to full competition for the 2021 season.”

The Pirates scratched Archer from a scheduled spring training start this past February because of neck tightness. He returned on March 6, however, and threw two scoreless innings in a spring game against Toronto.

Archer, 31, was a two-time All-Star with the Tampa Bay Rays but struggled last year in his first full season with the Pirates, going 3-9 with a 5.19 ERA in 23 starts.

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Fantasy Insights – Will Kevin Newman outperform Josh Bell for Pirates?

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Spring is here and Eric Karabell misses baseball, so he is going to write about all 30 MLB teams, covering myriad player values and his general thoughts for what he hopes will ultimately be a fruitful 2020 season.

Next up, the Pittsburgh Pirates!

Top fantasy storyline: One lonely Pirate is likely to go in the first 15 rounds of a standard mixed league, and that is All-Star first baseman Josh Bell, who slugged 37 home runs and knocked in 116 runs last season. Nearly a third of the home runs came in a magical June, when he blasted 12 and hit .390. The entire year prior, Bell hit 12 home runs with 62 RBIs. Yeah, quite a change. Fantasy managers like power, of course, but Bell had a poor second half, hitting .233 with only 10 blasts, so there is reasonable concern this is not a safe, reliable player after all.

What’s new: Longtime outfielder

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