Japanese baseball players test positive for coronavirus

In this March 11, 2020, photo, Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami throws a ball against Yakult Swallows in a pre-season match in Tokyo. Fujinami became the first professional baseball player in Japan to test positive for the new coronavirus. Fujinami was examined at a hospital on Tuesday, March 24, and Wednesday, March 25, and a doctor recommended he have a PCR test for the new coronavirus. Kyodo News agency reported on Friday, March 27, that the result was positive.

TOKYO (AP) — Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami and two teammates have become the first professional baseball players in Japan to test positive for the new coronavirus.

Fujinami was examined at a hospital on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a doctor recommended he have a test. Japan's Kyodo news agency reported Friday that the result was positive.

The 25-year-old right-hander reported losing his sense of smell, although he exhibited no other symptoms before the test.

After checking the pitcher's activities over the past two weeks, it was determined that two other players who dined with Fujinami reported a diminished sense of taste. They also tested positive, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Unlike Japan's professional soccer league which has canceled all games, Japanese baseball has been playing exhibition games with no spectators. The Tigers canceled Thursday's farm team practice game and had their home park, Koshien Stadium, disinfected.

The Central League club has ordered all of its players and staff to self-quarantine, and has suspended all practice through April 1.

Japan professional baseball had earlier postponed the start of its regular season amid the pandemic and was aiming for an April 24th start, but that now seems unlikely.

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