LSU baseball delays fall practice after majority of players enter coronavirus quarantine

LSU’s baseball team delayed the start of fall practice after the majority of its players entered quarantine because of coronavirus exposure, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said.

Players quarantined because they either tested positive for COVID-19 or came in close contact with someone who tested positive.

LSU didn’t confirm the number of players in quarantine. It hasn’t publicly released information on coronavirus cases within the athletic department and has declined to confirm specifics on outbreaks, citing student privacy laws.

Coach Paul Mainieri said fall practice is now scheduled to begin Sept. 27, a week later than originally planned, but LSU may have to further push back the start date.

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Players must quarantine for 10 days after a positive coronavirus test, according to Southeastern Conference protocols, and symptoms have to subside for at least 24 hours without medication before those players can return to practice. Those who quarantined because of high-risk exposure must isolate for 14 days.

Athletes who test positive for coronavirus receive two heart examinations — an echocardiogram and an electrocardiogram (EKG) — after their quarantine to detect signs of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by viruses. They can return to practice once they clear the tests.

“We’re following proper protocol,” Mainieri said. “The most important thing is the young men under our care.”

Coronavirus exposure concerns played a role in why last weekend the baseball team didn’t participate in the athletic department’s “Tigers United” march against racism and canceled its hurricane relief trip to Lake Charles. LSU limited athletes’ travel at the time, according to a press release.

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College athletics have entered a period of turbulent upheaval, but LSU’s baseball program will soon begin fall practice.

LSU’s baseball players returned to campus in mid-August. The team’s first round of coronavirus testing revealed no positive results amongst 23 players, Mainieri said. Incoming freshmen and junior college transfers had yet to receive tests at that time.

Six baseball players tested positive for coronavirus over the summer, Mainieri said in August, adding they contracted the virus while living at home. Mainieri said “most of them” were either asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms. He also said at the time a couple staff members tested positive this summer.

The baseball team began a monthlong training period once players returned to campus. The team implemented a COVID-19 policy manual that resembled MLB protocols. It prohibited high-fives and spitting.

Players exercised with their roommates, Mainieri said, and coaches have worn masks. LSU also changed the format of its locker room inside Alex Box Stadium to put more space between pitchers and position players.

SEC baseball teams can hold intrasquad scrimmages this fall, but the league said they can’t play exhibition games against other schools. Once practice starts, LSU will play longer scrimmages to make up for the games it lost last spring.

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