After two Cardinals players tested positive for COVID-19, Major League Baseball announced that Friday’s Cardinals-Brewers game at Miller Park has been postponed until Sunday as part of a doubleheader.
Members of the Cardinals traveling party will not leave their hotel Friday and have underwent additional rapid testing as well as contact tracing. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak, who is on the trip, said the team took two tests -- a rapid test sent to a Milwaukee hospital and a saliva test sent to MLB’s lab in Utah. He hopes to have the rapid results back by Friday night and the saliva results back by Saturday morning.
The Cardinals learned that two players had positive test results around 11 p.m. Thursday and began figuring out the logistics of additional testing. Mozeliak talked to Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns early on Friday morning and said they wanted to have early decisions on quarantining and the game.
“Having prompt reaction by everybody involved -- commissioner’s office, Brewers, Cardinals -- I think it did prioritize safety, and that’s important,” Mozeliak said during a Zoom call with St. Louis media Friday.
The two positive results were from testing conducted Wednesday before the Cardinals’ game against the Twins in Minneapolis. The contact tracing the team is doing includes the Twins, especially their visiting clubhouse personnel, and to some extent the Indians, who played in Minneapolis on Thursday.
“That’s why we’re apprehensive, nervous and acting accordingly to try to get so many tests done today,” Mozeliak said.
As of Friday, the Cardinals and Brewers plan to play at 6:10 p.m. CT on Saturday, with the doubleheader set to begin at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. Both games on Sunday will be seven innings.
The Cardinals had an off day in Milwaukee on Thursday and did not have an official workout at Miller Park, though some coaches, players and staff members did visit the stadium to do advance work. Brewers visiting clubhouse personnel were also being tested on Friday.
In a team statement released Friday, the Cardinals emphasized that no members of the traveling party had left their hotel rooms Friday for Miller Park, and Mozeliak said the self-isolation will continue through Friday night. Both players who tested positive are at the same hotel as the rest of the team but in their own rooms.
The team did not release the players’ names because anyone who tests positive must give their consent before being identified. Mozeliak said he had not spoken to the medical staff yet about the players’ symptoms or lack thereof. Both players must have two negative tests at least 24 hours apart to return to the team. The Cardinals will likely add players from their alternate training site in Springfield, Mo., to the taxi squad or active roster before the next game.
There are two people assigned within the Cardinals organization to conduct contact tracing if positive cases arise, including assistant general manager Moises Rodriguez. He has been working with Mozeliak, director of team travel Ernie Moore, and the team’s equipment managers to figure out who the players had contact with. One of the hardest parts, Mozeliak said, is not knowing exactly how far back they need to go with the contact tracing because it’s unclear how long the virus has been in the players’ systems.
“We’re trying to really just understand who these people had contact with,” Mozeliak said. “And specifically, we’re not as concerned about like where and when they may have gotten it as much as who they’ve had contact with. So that’s really been our focus at this point”
MLB rescheduled National League and American League East games this week after a Marlins outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests. It appears the Phillies -- who played the Marlins last weekend -- won’t play again until Monday at the earliest, which would be an eight-day break between games, and the Marlins are hoping to resume play early next week, too. The Yankees and Orioles played each other this week instead of the Phillies and Marlins, respectively.
This is the Cardinals' first road trip of the 2020 regular season, and they are scheduled to go to Detroit after this weekend’s games in Milwaukee for two games against the Tigers. Following the Marlins outbreak, the Cardinals’ situation is another reminder for the club to take seriously the health and safety protocols the league and team have planned.
“This can move quick, and even if you practice social distancing, even if you practice hygiene, even if you practice wearing a face guard, you still could end up getting sick,” Mozeliak said. “I guarantee you this is just another loud wake up call. What we saw early in the week through Major League Baseball was very real, and now when you have something that hits your home clubhouse it’s -- people are aware.”