ST. LOUIS -- Because of an unexpected delay in COVID-19 test results, the Cardinals canceled their workouts Monday at Busch Stadium. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said the players were not comfortable reporting until the results were available.
Monday’s workout was originally scheduled for midday, but it was pushed back to 6 p.m. CT when results from Friday’s testing had not yet arrived. When the results had still not arrived in the afternoon, the team decided to call off the workout. Players, coaches and support staff are being tested for COVID-19 every other day during Summer Camp, the regular season and the postseason.
“There’s been a little frustration in our camp in terms of getting some test results,” Mozeliak said. “Originally, we were hoping to have something back by early afternoon. Unfortunately, we have not received them as of yet, so we just made the decision that rather than trying to push back our start time of this workout, just thought we’d start fresh tomorrow and should have all the results and know exactly where we stand moving forward.”
Mozeliak thought that the results would be available Monday evening, and he expressed optimism that the Cardinals would be able to hold camp Tuesday.
Friday marked the second round of testing for most players in Summer Camp at Busch Stadium, and the Cardinals were able to administer tests on their own on Sunday. But the problem was the results of Friday’s tests -- those samples, Mozeliak said, were not delivered to the Utah laboratory conducting the test analysis until Monday morning due to a delivery wrinkle related to the Fourth of July holiday.
“I think the biggest thing is probably the inability for us to recognize the holiday in terms of getting our samples turned over,” Mozeliak said. “Now that they’ve been delivered, we might as well get an accurate result before we move on. Better safe than sorry.”
For some Cardinals, the Friday test was part of their intake process necessary for access to workouts, and not getting that result has prolonged their absence from the field. Mozeliak outlined three outcomes of a COVID-19 test: Positive, negative and undetermined. The latter means a person must get retested, and Mozeliak said that there is a group of players in the “undetermined” category who had to get retested Friday and have not been cleared.
The Cardinals have had four positive cases in the organization, and three have been confirmed by the team as players, who gave their consent to be identified: left-handed pitchers Génesis Cabrera and Ricardo Sánchez and infielder Elehuris Montero all tested positive during intake testing. All three are asymptomatic and in isolation.
Cabrera and Montero were two of the five players who traveled on an MLB charter flight from the Dominican Republic, along with Carlos Martínez, Angel Rondon and Julio Rodriguez. Rondon and Rodriguez will be in the Cardinals' player pool at their alternate training site in Springfield, Mo.
Teams are practicing contact tracing for when positive tests arise in the organization, and assistant general manager Moises Rodriguez, as well as a member of the business side of the organization, are working on that. Coming in contact with a person who tested positive could lead to additional layers of testing, and Mozeliak said the Cardinals have already utilized rapid testing sent to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, which has a turnaround time of two to four hours.
Alex Reyes, Junior Fernandez and Ivan Herrera also have not been seen on the field at workouts. The Cardinals clarified Monday that Herrera traveled on a flight from Panama, not the Dominican Republic, with Edmundo Sosa, who participated in drills over the weekend. Mozeliak confirmed that Reyes and Fernandez flew from Florida. Giovanny Gallegos is also not in camp; he has remained in Mexico until he receives clearance to travel.
The Cardinals are the third team to cancel Monday workouts because of the delayed results, joining the Nationals and Astros. It’s not yet known whether Monday’s off-day will be in place of the off-day the Cardinals had scheduled on July 13, but Mozeliak said this delay likely won’t affect the players building up to Opening Day.
“I would say right now, players look very much like April or May versus two weeks into February, so I think from a ramp-up standpoint, on arms and that sort of thing, I’m not overly concerned,” Mozeliak said. “I think the concern would become if you have continued players that are delayed by COVID testing that doesn’t allow them on the field. The guys that we have seen on the field look like they are very much ready to be in a game.”
The Cardinals plan to add to their Summer Camp roster, which currently stands at 45 players, and they have several players going through intake testing to be able to train at Busch Stadium. Teams can have as many as 60 players in their player pool for the season.
Mozeliak urged patience as the league tries to smooth out the logistics of the testing process.
“I think drawing conclusions that this has been unsuccessful is probably a bit of an extreme,” Mozeliak said. “A lot of tests have been taken throughout baseball. Unfortunately, there are a few clubs that have been adversely affected in terms of timing returns, but I don’t think I would necessarily just say it’s a crash and burn at this point.”