Cards-Bucs series PPD; more tests planned
ST. LOUIS -- With an additional positive test and the need to put distance between the Cardinals and the outbreak that has spread throughout its clubhouse, the club’s upcoming series against the Pirates at Busch Stadium has been postponed, Major League Baseball announced Sunday. The series was originally scheduled to take place Monday through Wednesday.
Outfielder Lane Thomas tested positive for COVID-19 from his Saturday test, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said on a Zoom call Sunday. Thomas had been identified as a probable positive because he is roommates with reliever Ryan Helsley, who tested positive Thursday.
Thomas’ test brings the Cardinals’ total to 17, with 10 players and seven staff members testing positive. Some have been asymptomatic, while some have had mild symptoms ranging from headaches to low-grade fevers. A player and a staff member were also treated at a hospital but did not require a stay, Mozeliak said.
The number of games the Cardinals will now have missed is up to 13 and spans two weeks. The Cardinals have had two days on the field in the past 10, a scenario presenting its own injury-risk scenarios. If the Cardinals -- who have played an MLB-low five games -- play all 60 games in this shortened season, they will have to play 55 games in 46 days, at most.
“In terms of when are we going to get back on the field and get back to baseball, I just don’t know,” Mozeliak said. “We’ll allow a few days to come and go and then we’ll reassess. ... It’s a bummer. But not having experience on how to truly isolate it and prevent it from spreading, we’re learning as we go. So I wish I had better answers. I wish I had something firm. But I don’t at this time.”
The outbreak started more than a week ago with two positive tests while the Cardinals were in Milwaukee. It grew to 13 positive tests as the Cardinals quarantined in Milwaukee and sent the individuals who tested positive back to St. Louis. When the remaining Cardinals received two rounds of negative tests early last week, they were cleared to fly back to St. Louis on Wednesday and hold workouts at Busch Stadium before resuming their schedule.
But late Thursday night, the Cardinals learned that three additional people had tested positive from testing conducted Wednesday and Thursday, and that led to the postponement of this past weekend’s Cubs series, sending the Cardinals back into quarantine, additional testing and contact tracing.
Mozeliak is hopeful that the Cardinals will receive good news -- meaning no positive tests -- Monday and Tuesday, and then they can figure out how to get back on the field by the end of the week. The Cardinals underwent testing Sunday and are quarantining in their St. Louis homes. The team has recommended that those with families in St. Louis keep their distance as much as possible and wear masks whenever possible. The only approved time players and staff should be out of their homes is to drive to Busch Stadium to get tested in the drive-through setup.
“What’s the right amount of time to not assemble and to try to prevent spread? I don’t think we know that answer perfectly,” Mozeliak said. “Because even when you go back to what we learned from Minneapolis to Milwaukee to when we returned, we thought we waited long enough and obviously we didn’t.”
Nine of the 17 individuals who tested positive have given their consent to be identified: All-Stars Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong; infielders Rangel Ravelo and Edmundo Sosa; outfielders Thomas and Austin Dean; and relievers Kodi Whitley, Junior Fernández and Helsley.
Some of the players who tested positive during the start of the outbreak in Milwaukee were able to be tested for the first time Sunday. They had to wait seven days after their last positive test to be tested again and begin the return process, which includes needing two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. As the schedule turns out, some of the players might not even miss a game.
“Right now you look at having 10 players out,” Mozeliak said. “But we’re out long enough we might get a couple players back. So who knows? Again, day by day.”
The Cardinals do have players at their alternate site training camp in Springfield, Mo., who go through regular testing and are continuing with that camp. But the team does not want to bring those players to Busch Stadium until the outbreak is stemmed. The Cardinals would not be able to put together a roster entirely of alternate site players, because not all of the Springfield players are on the 40-man roster and a complete team would be unattainable. The Cardinals also don’t want to allow the Major League players who have tested negative multiple days in a row work out together because the incubation period of the virus is so unknown -- it could be anywhere from two to 14 days, as shown this week when an individual tested negative for at least six days in Milwaukee and then positive back in St. Louis.