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story.lead_photo.caption Fan cutouts are displayed behind home plate at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Friday after it was announced that the Brewers’ home opener was postponed after two St. Louis Cardinals players tested positive for covid-19. The teams hoped to play tonight and to make up Friday’s game with two seven-inning games Sunday under a newly approved MLB plan for doubleheaders. (AP/Morry Gash)

MIAMI -- With six teams idled Friday by the covid-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to union leader Tony Clark about the importance of players following the sport's coronavirus protocols.

Manfred and Clark talked about what needs to be done to finish the season, a person familiar with the conversation said. The person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The conversation between Manfred and Clark, first reported by ESPN, comes amid growing evidence that the spread of infection threatens to overtake efforts to play ball.

"Some things aren't looking too good right now, but we have to play up to that point. Players are seeing what can happen," Houston Manager Dusty Baker said. "The rest now is up to us and the virus," he said.

Concerns have been expressed about lax behavior by players on the field -- such as spitting or high-fives -- and off. The scrambled schedule has also heightened doubts about whether the owners' desire to play is realistic.

"Obviously, we saw the message. They sent a memo. Just be more diligent, wear a mask in the dugout when you're not playing, what we've thought to be the rules all along," Arizona catcher Stephen Vogt said. "So it's just like every other rule that MLB has for players -- now it's going to be enforced, so to speak. Just strongly encouraging."

"Everything gets a little bit lax when you get in the game because the habits of what we've been doing our whole life takes over. When one of your teammates gets a big hit, you want to high-five them. You want to celebrate the way you've always done," he said. "And the last thing I want to do when I'm trying to play and do my job is be worried about covid, but that's the times were in right now."

The latest game to be postponed was Milwaukee's home opener against St. Louis, called off hours before the first pitch after two Cardinals players tested positive for covid-19.

"TV Show suggestions please," tweeted Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, one of an increasing number of players who found themselves with unexpected free time as the postponements mounted.

The Cardinals said in a statement they learned Thursday night about positive tests from samples collected Wednesday. Players and staff were instructed to isolate in their hotel rooms.

"The team is currently conducting rapid testing of the entire traveling party, has implemented contact tracing, and will continue to self-isolate," the Cardinals said.

The Cardinals and Brewers still hoped to play tonight, and to make up Friday's game with a pair of seven-inning games Sunday under a newly approved MLB plan for doubleheaders.

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said baseball is braced for curveballs, especially this year.

"We're all committed, I believe -- and I've talked to a number of players today -- to finishing the season," Attanasio said. "Insofar as we can continue to provide some enjoyment for our fans, I think that's something we're all committed to doing. ... If we're not smart and safe, then we'll fail. But we're doing everything we can not to fail."

Two weekend series -- Nationals at Marlins, and Blue Jays at Phillies -- were called off earlier. The Marlins were hit with a virus outbreak in Philadelphia that infected at least 20 members of their traveling party, and both Miami and the Phillies are sidelined for at least a week.

The schedules of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles have also been scrambled a week into a season that had already been delayed and curtailed because of the pandemic, and now may be in jeopardy.

"That's a concern of mine," said Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who was out with the virus earlier. "I speak for the entire Rockies team -- we want to go out and play. ... Anything that pops up negatively, in terms of this virus situation, could hinder that. So yeah, I'm concerned. I would rather not see any more positive cases."

The six idled teams Friday represented 20% of MLB.

"I don't think there's a person that thought that this would be seamless," Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins said. "We are being as safe as we possibly can, but we also understand that this virus is very strong and doesn't have borders."

For the week ending Thursday, MLB said there were 29 positive tests, a rate of 0.2%. Aside from the Marlins, there were eight positive tests for the 29 other teams, only two involved major league players.

The Marlins received another positive test result, a person familiar with the situation said, and at least 18 of their players have been infected.

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Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio (right) talks to Manager Craig Counsell on Friday after it was announced that the home opener was postponed because two St. Louis Cardinals players tested positive for the coronavirus. (AP/Morry Gash)
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St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon hands the ball over to manager Mike Shildt, left, after being pulled in the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Miller Park is seen Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Brewers are scheduled to host their home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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FILE - In this Sunday, July 12, 2020, file photo, Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly watches a baseball scrimmage at Marlins Park in Miami. The Marlins, one of the most under-the-radar teams in sports, have making news lately, all of it bad. Overtaken by a coronavirus outbreak, the team must scramble for roster replacements as they try salvage a season barely underway. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
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FILE - In this Sunday, July 26, 2020, file photo, a foul ball that was hit into the stands sits on the ground of an empty stadium during the eighth inning of a baseball game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia. The Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak could endanger the Major League Baseball season, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, as the number of their players testing positive rose to 15. The Marlins received positive test results for four additional players Tuesday, July 23, 2020, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person declined to be identified because the results had not been publicly released. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola, File)
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Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell runs with a bucket after it was announced that the Brewers home opener was postponed after two St. Louis Cardinals employees tested positive for the coronavirus, Friday, July 31, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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Fan cutouts are seen behind home plate at Miller Park after it was announced that the Milwaukee Brewers home opener was postponed after two St. Louis Cardinals employees tested positive for the coronavirus, Friday, July 31, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
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Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley, left and catcher Stephen Vogt celebrate the 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers in a baseball game Tuesday, July 28, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

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