The Cardinals got more good news Tuesday: Some familiar faces have been cleared to resume activity at Busch Stadium.
All-Stars Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong were among the latest group of Cardinals who received clearance from Major League Baseball to resume activities after testing positive for COVID-19 almost three weeks ago, manager Mike Shildt said. Reliever Kodi Whitley infielder Rangel Ravelo were also cleared Tuesday, joining Carlos Martínez and Edmundo Sosa. They can join the team for whatever workouts the club has before Thursday’s home game against the Reds, but it’s unclear what their timetables are for returning to games.
“Today, those guys have all done something to work out,” Shildt said. “Whether it’s baseball-related or some kind of cardio-related or some kind of training or a combination, all those guys have done something.”
Of the seven Cardinals players who went on the COVID-related injured list while the team was quarantined in Milwaukee, all except reliever Junior Fernández have been cleared by the team and MLB to return to the field.
The other three players who tested positive -- Austin Dean, Ryan Helsley and Lane Thomas -- tested positive once the team returned home to St. Louis after the initial quarantine. They are still going through protocols, and that includes needing two negative tests at least 24 hours apart and other exams before returning.
Martínez shared on Instagram on Tuesday that he was “free of the virus,” his first acknowledgement that he had tested positive for COVID-19. The team had put him on the COVID-19 injured list for undisclosed reasons.
“I prefer Carlos to be able to disclose that,” Shildt said when asked about more information on Martínez’s post. “But I talked to him today via text, as I do almost every day, and he’s feeling good and is excited to get back.”
All systems go for Flaherty’s start Wednesday
Almost four weeks after his Opening Day start on July 24, Jack Flaherty will get his second start of the season in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Flaherty threw a bullpen session on Monday to make sure he was all clear after so much time off.
“Everything went smooth,” Flaherty said. “It’s been a lot of time off. I wanted to make sure everything checked out.”
Flaherty will be the last active Cardinals pitcher to return to action after the team’s 17-day layoff from games. The Cardinals wanted to be cautious with him, considering the long layoff. During six days of quarantine in Milwaukee, Flaherty relied on yoga, stretching, body-weight activities and throwing into a mattress and pillows. Then, when the team went back into quarantine in St. Louis, players again were limited with what they could do from their apartments and houses. When they finally could return to the field, Flaherty began throwing and worked back into a routine to make sure his body was “prepped and ready to go full force,” he said.
“I think you just have to be honest with yourself about the situation,” Flaherty said. “It sucked the way things happened and the long layoff we had to have, but at this point it’s about getting back out there, whenever that was going to be, just get back out there and make sure I was able to go out there and compete with these guys.
“Really, it was just about getting as close to game speed or game intensity as we could. Have longer bullpen sessions, longer throwing sessions. I feel good, I feel ready, I feel confident to go out there tomorrow.”
Shildt said the Cardinals have an “idea” on who will start Game 2, but they have not announced it yet.
• Before Tuesday’s 6-3 loss the Cubs, the Cardinals selected the contract of right-hander Jesus Cruz to the Major League roster and optioned lefty Rob Kaminsky -- who threw an inning in Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader -- to the alternate training site. Kaminsky will remain on the team’s taxi squad throughout their road trip in Chicago.
• Tyler O'Neill was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup after he felt discomfort at the base of one of his ring fingers, Shildt said after the game. Dylan Carlson moved to left field, and Harrison Bader played center field and batted ninth.
“We’re hopeful for tomorrow, still have to get some more intel,” Shildt said. “As of right now, my understanding is I think it’s a little bit of a tolerance issue.”