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Marlins postpone flight after virus woes, Ohtani shelled in Oakland

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Los Angeles (AFP)

The Miami Marlins were forced to delay their travel plans out of Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon after several players were reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus, US media reported.

The Marlins decided to stay an extra night after right-handed pitcher Jose Urena, first baseman Garrett Cooper and outfielder Harold Ramirez all tested positive, ESPN.com reported.

On Friday, catcher Jorge Alfaro also got a positive test result.

Manager Don Mattingly said the Marlins had decided to wait until Monday to leave Philadelphia. They plan to arrive in Miami hours before their home opener against Baltimore.

The tests results likely means that some players will remain in Philadelphia and miss the home opener.

"The guys that tested positive are quarantined here in Philly," Mattingly said.

The Marlins' decision to postpone their flight home was made because of family concerns.

"We were more comfortable flying as a group later," Mattingly said. "We're talking about these guys travelling back home to their families and their kids, and it's the reason we want to be safe."

Urena was supposed to pitch in Sunday's series finale at Philadelphia, but that start was given to Robert Dugger. The Marlins finished play on the field on a positive note with an 11-6 victory to take two of the three games in the season-opening series.

"We're taking risks every day," Mattingly told reporters. "We're going to have to be adjustable, we're going to have to be flexible, we're going to have to be patient."

Meanwhile, Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani would like to forget his return to the mound Sunday after the Los Angeles Angels sensation failed to record an out in his 2020 pitching debut.

Ohtani, who pitched for the first time in 20 months, raised alarms about his ability to play two positions this season by giving up three singles and walking three batters in a 6-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

"He just didn't throw the ball very well," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "I can't sit here and make excuses for him. I'm not gonna do that. The fastball wasn't coming out, there was no deception in his pitches."

Ohtani said he felt ready to play and he needs to throw more pitches in a competitive atmosphere.

"I just have to get that feel for the game back," Ohtani said. "Today I just felt like I was throwing the ball rather than pitching."

Restricted to a designated hitter role last season, Ohtani belted 18 home runs with a batting average of .286.

Ohtani was the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year after batting .285 with 22 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 61 runs batted in plus a 4-2 record in 10 pitching starts with a 3.31 earned-run average and 63 strikeouts.

Babe Ruth, a legend from a century ago, was the only other player who managed 10 pitching appearances and 20 homers in an MLB season.

Mitch Keller also pitched five solid innings, and manager Derek Shelton engaged in American baseball's first socially distanced argument with an umpire as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat St. Louis 5-1 on Sunday.

In the third inning, Shelton donned his face mask and left the dugout to argue with Jordan Baker after the plate umpire threw Pirates pitcher Derek Holland out of the game for arguing balls and strikes.

- PPE mask malfunction -

"Jordan did a really good job of it. We were trying to stay distant, which we were both aware of," Shelton said. "Then his mask broke midway though (our argument), so I wanted to make sure that my mask stayed up and he was great."

Arguments between managers and umpires are a tradition in American baseball, with the dust-ups usually ending with the manager being sent to an early shower in the clubhouse.

But Baker allowed Shelton to vent from a safe distance before order was restored and the game continued.

"He handled it professionally," Shelton said. "I think it was the first time, and we were both in an unknown area, and then when I went out there later, we kind of got a chuckle out of it."

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