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Source — Miami Marlins pause minor league activities after multiple positive COVID-19 tests

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The Miami Marlins are hitting pause on minor league activities this weekend due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests among players, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Minor league camp is set to break on Friday, in advance of the minor league season beginning in May, so as an extra precaution the organization put a halt to team activities for the time being. Contact tracing is taking place while the players who tested positive have been isolated.

The Marlins’ major league team dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak last season, being quarantined in Philadelphia for over a week at the beginning of the season. Once cleared, they made up missed games and eventually made it to the second round of the postseason.

The team said it doesn’t believe the current outbreak will have a major impact on the minor league season set to begin next month.

Radio host Andy Slater first reported news of the Marlins’ minor league shutdown.

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ESPN, MLB announce seven-year extension running through 2028

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ESPN and Major League Baseball announced a seven-year contract extension Thursday that will see the network carry 30 regular-season games per year plus wild-card games.

The deal, which runs through 2028, allows ESPN to show 25 weeks of Sunday Night Baseball and the MLB Little League Classic. It will also have an Opening Night game and the Home Run Derby around the All-Star Game. ESPN can show alternate versions of each game, such as the popular StatCast broadcasts on ESPN2. All telecasts will be exclusive.

ESPN currently shows one of two wild-card games. In 2022, if MLB expands to eight series, as it did in 2020, ESPN would carry the entire schedule of games. If the wild-card playoffs don’t expand, ESPN would get eight more regular-season games exclusively per year.

In addition, ESPN will be able to create new MLB content for ESPN+, including highlight-driven programming. There will continue to be a game nearly every day on ESPN+, subject to local blackout restrictions, and all games on ESPN or ABC can be simulcast on ESPN+.

ESPN Radio will continue to carry regular-season games and the full MLB postseason, including the World Series. The deal also includes increased highlight rights for studio content, including digital shows like BBTN Live, and Spanish-language rights for ESPN Deportes.

“ESPN’s longstanding relationship with Major League Baseball has been a driver of innovation for three decades,” James Pitaro, Chairman ESPN and Sports Content, said in a statement. “This agreement solidifies baseball’s ubiquitous presence across ESPN platforms, including ESPN+. The impactful collection of exclusive content, including Sunday Night Baseball which has served as the signature MLB series for more than 30 years, will be amplified by the surrounding rights we have to make these live events even bigger.”

“ESPN has been one of MLB’s longest and most important partners,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said. “This extension continues the evolution of our relationship with a focus on utilizing ESPN’s extensive assets to shine a spotlight on key matchups throughout the year.”

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Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes sets record for strikeouts without a walk to start season

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Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes set the record for strikeouts without a walk to start the season Thursday, extending the record to 58 before issuing his first walk of the season in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Burnes, 26, needed three strikeouts to pass the previous record of 51 strikeouts without a walk held by Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, set in 2017. Burnes struck out Dylan Carlson in the first inning and then Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader in the second inning to set the record.

His strikeout total reached nine for the game through the fourth inning to set another major league record — strikeouts without a walk at any point in a season. He passed Greg Maddux (53) and Gerrit Cole and Curt Schilling (56 each) on that list. Schilling achieved the feat in 2002 and Cole’s streak is still active.

Burnes’ streaks ended, however, in the fifth inning when he walked the Cardinals’ Tommy Edman. Cole will have a chance to break Burnes’ record for most strikeouts without a walk at any point in a season in his next start for the New York Yankees.

Burnes is making his first start after testing positive for COVID-19. He was asymptomatic and said he kept in shape throwing outside his apartment complex and using cardio equipment.

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New York Yankees SS Gleyber Torres to miss second straight game, sources say

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres, who was held out of Wednesday night’s game out of “an abundance of caution,” will not play in Thursday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, sources told ESPN.

The Yankees have confirmed seven cases of COVID-19 among their coaching and support staff, and manager Aaron Boone said the team was waiting for the MLB and MLB Players Association joint committee to review the results of Torres’ testing.

“Essentially, the joint committee is waiting, because we’ve had so many tests done, waiting on some test results to still come back,” Boone said before the Yankees’ 1-0 victory over the Rays on Wednesday. “With all that’s going on with our team, out of an abundance of caution, we’re holding him out tonight.”

Boone added: “I know everyone’s going to read into that, but hopefully it’s nothing. It’s more just getting all the information.”

The Yankees have said that pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits have tested positive for COVID-19.

Six of the seven people who have tested positive are asymptomatic, Boone said, adding that a number of test results were pending. All seven people who tested positive were vaccinated for COVID-19.

“I think one of the things we’re seeing is that being vaccinated en masse like we are, we’re seeing the vaccinations also kind of blunt the effects of the virus,” Boone said. “I feel like in a lot of ways, because we’re vaccinated, we’re kind of good and able to deal with this. So there’s a little bit of a frustrating part there, in all the testing that we’re going to do.”

All members of the Yankees’ traveling party have been tested at least three times each since Tuesday.

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