AUDIO: John Mozeliak talks to media after two Cardinals players tested positive for COVID-19: CLICK HERE
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals game on Friday in Milwaukee was postponed after two of their players tested positive for COVID-19.
The identity of the two players has not been revealed.
John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said in a press conference conducted via a zoom call from Milwaukee that everyone in the Cardinals’ traveling party underwent two new tests on Friday which hopefully will determine if the virus has spread to other players or staff members.
“What you are hoping for is that you have no new positive tests,” he said. “Then you can feel confident that it’s been isolated. Nothing is 100 percent. We all understand that. If we come back with no new positives I will feel pretty confident about moving forward.”
Pending the test results, the Cardinals and Brewers are still scheduled to play Saturday night and meet in a doubleheader on Sunday, which will be the first games under new rules approved this week calling for doubleheader games to be seven innings each.
Mozeliak said he learned about the two positive test results late Thursday night and the team immediately isolated players in their hotel rooms, ordered the additional tests and began contact tracing for the players who tested positive “to understand if we have some concerns and how to manage that,” he said.
“We have a lot of balls up in the air creating a lot of anxiety,” Mozeliak said. “These are new times for us. We’re trying to understand how to work through them.”
The positive results came from tests administered before Wednesday’s game in Minneapolis, but Mozeliak stressed that the team does not know where or when the two players contracted the virus.
“What happened to us happened when we were on the road, but we don’t know where it began,” said Mozeliak.
The Cardinals, after conducting their summer camp at Busch Stadium, played the Pirates in their first series at home and then flew to Minneapolis on Monday night before the start of the two-game series on Tuesday night.
After the testing on Wednesday, the Cardinals played the Twins on Wednesday night and then flew on a chartered plane to Milwaukee. The team had a scheduled day off on Thursday. Part of the Cardinals’ safety protocols included keeping track of where players sat on the team bus and also on the plane.
“We’re trying to understand who these people had contact with. Specifically we are not as concerned with where or when they might have contracted this as much as who they have had contact with sense,” Mozeliak said. “That’s been our focus at this point.
“We learn as we go. Last night and today have been no different.”
The Cardinals, who activated Jake Woodford from the taxi squad on Tuesday to replace the injured Miles Mikolas, have two extra players, infielder Max Schrock (on the taxi squad), and infielder Brad Miller (on the injured list) traveling with them but are expected to call up a couple of additional players from the team’s satellite camp in Springfield, again pending the new test results. If the Cardinals and Brewers proceed with Saturday night’s game it is possible the Cardinals will play with less than a full 30-man roster, Mozeliak said.
These are the first positive tests for the Cardinals since the intake testing at the start of summer camp in early July. There were four positive tests among players as a result of those tests, including Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera, both of whom are now working out at the team’s satellite camp in Springfield. The other two positive tests came from minor-league players invited to the camp.
“I guarantee you this is another very loud wakeup call,” Mozeliak said. “What we saw earlier in the week (outbreaks on the Marlins and Phillies) was very real. Now when you have something that hits your home clubhouse, people are aware.”
Several games around the major leagues have been postponed this week as a result of multiple positive tests on the Marlins and Phillies, which has affected the teams they played and teams which were scheduled to play at those stadiums.
There were national media reports on Friday that commissioner Rob Manfred told officials with the player’s association that if the sport doesn’t begin doing a better job of managing the coronavirus, he could shut baseball down for the season.
“You knew when we started this that there were going to be people who would contract this,” Mozeliak said. “It’s not a perfect bubble because it’s not completely controlled environment, but I’m still overall optimistic that we will get through this. I think I will have a lot more confidence tomorrow because I will know if there has been any growth or spread throughout our clubhouse.
“My fingers are crossed … I think the best way to approach the season is day-to-day.”
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Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports