Cubs' series vs. Cardinals postponed
Major League Baseball announced Friday that the Cubs' planned series against the Cardinals this weekend has been postponed, following positive COVID-19 test results for two St. Louis players and one staff member over the last two days.
MLB has not yet announced the makeup date plans for the Cubs, who have a scheduled off-day on Monday. Chicago’s next game is not slated until Tuesday, when the Cubs are due to begin a two-game road series against Cleveland.
“Based on the information MLB has shared with us,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement on Friday night, “postponing this series is a necessary step to protect the health and safety of the Cardinals and the Cubs. Therefore, it is absolutely the right thing to do.
“While it’s obviously less than ideal, this is 2020 and we will embrace whatever steps are necessary to promote player and staff well-being and increase our chances of completing this season in safe fashion. We will be ready to go on Tuesday in Cleveland. In the meantime, we wish the Cardinals personnel involved a quick and complete recovery.”
The Cubs just completed a two-game series against the Royals in Kansas City and were in St. Louis on Friday morning ahead of the series. The team will now travel back to Chicago before heading to Cleveland.
The positive tests for the Cardinals on Friday marked the ninth positive COVID-19 results to date among the team's player group. This past weekend, St. Louis had seven positive tests among the players and another six among staff, forcing the team to quarantine at its hotel in Milwaukee.
Following a series of negative test results, the Cardinals gained clearance to travel back to St. Louis on Wednesday. The team then held workouts at Busch Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday in preparation of the series with the rival Cubs.
To date, the Cubs have had no positive tests among their players.
The Cubs have not yet announced their planned pitching schedule, but veteran Jon Lester was originally penciled in to start Friday.
Last weekend, Lester expressed concern over the Cardinals' situation and was not confident that this weekend's series would happen under the circumstances.
Beyond the health situation, Lester was also concerned about how a disruption in the schedule might impact the Cubs. St. Louis has only played five games -- none since July 29. The Cubs, meanwhile, are off to a 10-3 start to this 60-game campaign.
"We can only really control what goes on here," Lester said last weekend. "I think guys right now just want to keep playing. ... Guys are playing well, so it's like, 'Let's keep running out there and see how far we can take this.' It sucks that we're dealing with this, but it's the nature of the beast right now."
Prior to the intake screening for Summer Camp, quality assurance coach Mike Napoli tested positive while at home, and only recently rejoined the team. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy also endured a grueling month-long battle with the illness between Spring Training and Summer Camp.
"I think people understand the severity of it in terms of how it could affect them," Hottovy said Wednesday. "Obviously, you guys know kind of my situation and how it affected me. It hit me pretty hard. I don't think people underestimate that aspect of it at all. I think they underestimated how easy it was to spread."
MLB announced the latest round of testing results Friday, noting that 13 of the 13,043 monitoring samples taken in the past week came back positive (0.1 percent). Seven of the positive tests were players and six were staff members. Four of the past seven days had no new positives.
"It comes down to a lot of personal responsibility and organizational responsibility," Epstein said recently. "And looking around the game, the vast, vast majority of players and staff are doing a great job and leading by example and staying diligent with the protocols and all the behaviors that are necessary to pull this off ... And every single player, and every single staff member, and their families, are making real sacrifices."