MINNEAPOLIS -- Not long after Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and president of baseball operations Derek Falvey woke up on Friday morning, they learned that players on the Cardinals roster had tested positive for COVID-19 in a round of testing conducted Wednesday morning -- hours before St. Louis took the field
MINNEAPOLIS -- Not long after Twins manager Rocco Baldelli and president of baseball operations Derek Falvey woke up on Friday morning, they learned that players on the Cardinals roster had tested positive for COVID-19 in a round of testing conducted Wednesday morning -- hours before St. Louis took the field for the finale of a two-game series at Target Field.
That set in motion a flurry of conversations, discussions and testing throughout Friday involving leadership figures from the Twins and Indians, who won the first game of the four-game weekend series on Thursday night. The Twins and Indians consulted with Major League Baseball and the Players Association to get assurance on the protocols. Rapid testing of Twins personnel did not reveal positive cases, and open communication between the two teams put the Indians’ concerns at ease.
“Once I started to gain a little bit more insight into where we were and our current testing solutions and what we were on-site, I started feeling a little more comfortable knowing that we were more likely to play,” Falvey said. “But yeah, there was a time this morning where I wasn't sure about that.
“As the day wore on, and as we all followed protocols and did all of our contact tracing and connected with some of the people that were in the environment ... we felt better about it as the day wore on."
When the Twins learned of the two positive cases on the Cardinals’ roster, they began the process of putting every member of their Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel -- players, on-field personnel, medical personnel and other “essential” staff members in close contact -- through the testing protocol. They used point-of-care nasal swab tests designed to rapidly return results within 20-30 minutes in an effort to clear all of their personnel throughout the day.
“What we did was just work through the protocols,” Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said, “make sure that everything that needed to be done was done and, in the end, we all felt comfortable that the right thing to do was to play tonight. And we consulted with Major League Baseball, the Players Association, obviously infectious disease specialists, and that's why we're playing.”
At the time Baldelli and Falvey spoke with media in the late afternoon, some testing was still in progress, but all tests to that point had come back negative for COVID-19, including the employees in the visiting clubhouse that had been in close contact with both Cardinals and Indians players, according to Falvey. Those clubhouse employees will not be around Target Field in the short term as the club proceeds with the contact tracing protocol.
In a similar case of possible contact between clubs, the Phillies have not yet played since their series with the Marlins, who have reported positive tests among 18 players and two coaches. Falvey saw a few distinctions between those cases and that of the Twins and Cardinals -- namely, that the Twins have not seen any subsequent positive tests, and that cross-over between the teams was limited by the nature of the shorter two-game series.
Leading into Friday’s game, Falvey shared with the Indians all of the detailed cleaning logs and schedules involving the treatment of the visiting clubhouse -- down to the individual cleaning products and wiping techniques applied to each surface. Falvey and the Twins ensured that the clubhouse and all associated equipment had been deep cleaned, according to protocol, following the Cardinals’ departure and prior to the Indians’ arrival.
“I'd like to thank, profoundly thank, the Minnesota Twins for how they've handled everything,” Antonetti said. “You know, after the Cardinals left here, the clubhouse was fully cleaned. … And then again this morning, there was a deep clean done before we arrived at the ballpark today. Additionally, the Twins have been extraordinary in helping us work through those logistics.”
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.
Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.