In a move consistent with what the Cardinals did when they returned from the coronavirus outbreak in August -- when the traveling party drove in separate cars to Chicago -- Johan Oviedo is driving to Milwaukee on Tuesday to rejoin the team.
He has his eyes on a start. If the rookie right-hander returns a negative rapid test for COVID-19 on Wednesday, which would be his seventh consecutive day without a positive test, he will be cleared to make the start in the second game of the Cardinals’ doubleheader, manager Mike Shildt said before Tuesday’s game against the Brewers.
Oviedo never tested positive for the coronavirus nor has he shown symptoms, but he was placed on the injured list this past Thursday because he came in contact with someone who tested positive. He’s been doing daily testing since, and he’s had access to Busch Stadium after the team hit the road for individual socially distanced workouts and bullpen sessions to be ready for his return.
In four starts this season, Oviedo is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA, while striking out 11 in 19 1/3 innings with a 1.29 WHIP.
Cardinals prepare for postseason at neutral sites
It’s hard to believe that October is rapidly approaching, given that the Cardinals are still scheduled to play 16 games in the next 13 days, starting with Tuesday’s matchup against the Brewers. But if St. Louis can hold onto its second-place spot in the National League Central, the Cards will be off to the Wild Card Series, a format unique to 2020.
That series would be played at the home venue of the higher-seeded team, but if the Cards were to advance beyond that round, they would play the entire NL Division Series in either Arlington or Houston -- a neutral site location. Major League Baseball announced the postseason schedule Tuesday.
“It’s 2020. I think the sacrifices will have to continue, and this is a big part of it,” said Cardinals reliever Andrew Miller, who is part of the MLB Players Association executive board. “The players certainly had an appreciation for making sure that we do everything we can to have a successful playoff run, and that’s a big part of what we’re doing this year.
“All I can say, in our clubhouse, we want to win as many games as possible, we want to: A) make the playoffs, and then when you check that box, you want to be in the best position you can in the playoffs. We’re not necessarily concerned about who we’re playing -- home games are important, you’d like to be essentially the home team, even if it’s not in your home ballpark. We’re just worried about winning games and trying to stack that as much as possible, because everything else will take care of itself.”
Many of the Cardinals packed for the possibility that they will have to move into a quarantine after their current 10-day road trip when they return to St. Louis for the final home series of the season against the Brewers. Then, from there, they will go into the postseason bubble, Miller said, so depending on how far the Cards go, this week could be the start of what equates to a 50-day road trip.
“I think everyone packed with the expectation that we’ll be able to get a little bit of help,” Miller said. “That was one of the big moves, just the logistics, particularly for teams like ours that we’re hitting the road and not going to be able to come home. Moving out at the end of the baseball season is just absolute mayhem every year, and then to couple that with getting it sprung on you … that maybe you got to pack for 50-some odd days potentially -- which is a great thing, but logistically a little bit of a nightmare. … The teams that don’t let it become a distraction will probably be more successful.”
• John Gant (groin) ran with some of the other relievers Tuesday and was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on flat ground, Shildt said. If Gant’s soreness subsides, he could be ready to pitch Wednesday.
“We’ll know more [later Tuesday],” Shildt said. “We’re hopeful, but we’re not going to push just to push. Clearly, we’d like him back, but we’re hopeful it’ll be sooner than later.”
• Second baseman Kolten Wong was scratched from Tuesday's game without a reason given before the game. Tommy Edman moved to second base and leadoff, while Matt Carpenter started at third base.