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Cubs to brief players on coronavirus concerns, ‘smart practices,’ and await MLB’s next move

“Obviously, no one knows exactly how this is going to play out. I think it’s important for everyone to plan for all possible outcomes,” team president Theo Epstein said.

“I’m not an expert. I think it’s important for us to rely on experts and be really transparent,”  Cubs president Theo Epstein said of coronavirus preparations.
“I’m not an expert. I think it’s important for us to rely on experts and be really transparent,”  Cubs president Theo Epstein said of coronavirus preparations.
John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs have formed a subcommittee of team executives for local planning related to coronavirus concerns and plan to meet with players in the next few days to brief them on “smart practices,” team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday.

“Just try to stay ahead of preparations,” Epstein said of the league-encouraged formation of a team task force. “Obviously, no one knows exactly how this is going to play out. I think it’s important for everyone to plan for all possible outcomes.”

Speaking one day after Major League Baseball sent a memo to all 30 teams regarding coronavirus issues, Epstein said he doesn’t know how the spread of the virulent strain of the virus might impact the Cubs’ two-game series in London against the Cardinals in June.

“As of now it’s on,” he said. “If they tell us not to go I’m sure it’ll be a decision that they make regretfully but with information that means that’s the right course of action.

“I’m not an expert. I think it’s important for us to rely on experts and be really transparent,” he added. “Whatever the experts tell us to do, we’re doing. We want to be diligent about it, transparent, and rely on people who know a lot more about it than we do.”

For now the Cubs are following the lead of MLB, which is staying in contact with other leagues such as the NBA and with health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, professional leagues in Japan (baseball) and Italy (soccer) have held games in empty stadiums; the Tokyo Olympics this summer are in danger of being postponed or canceled; and the Chicago State men’s basketball team is one of at least two teams to cancel trips to play Seattle University after nine confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in western Washington.

“When you see things like that you just want to get the information from experts,” Epstein said. “We shouldn’t be making decisions based on things we see on cable news. We should be getting the information directly from the experts.

“MLB’s definitely on top of it. … This is one of those things where there’s such a wide range of possible outcomes that it’s just important to stay prepared for all of them but not jump to any conclusions.”