(KMOV.com) — The four-game Cardinals series against the Detroit Tigers has been postponed after additional players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
The team said Monday 13 members of the organization, seven players and six staff members, have tested positive. All have told the team that they prefer to exercise their right to privacy, so the Cardinals are declining to identify any of the individuals who have tested positive at this time.
The club has been quarantined in their Milwaukee hotel rooms since Thursday, after missing the full series against the Brewers. Mozeliak said Monday the Cardinals hope to receive travel clearance by Wednesday, at which point the team would return to St. Louis, via plane, for a light workout Wednesday afternoon. Another workout would take place Thursday in preparation for the Cardinals to resume play Friday against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium.
All of that, of course, is dependent upon the Cardinals collectively receiving consecutive days of negative tests while holed up in their hotel in Milwaukee. Those who have tested positive have departed the Cardinals' traveling party, and have returned home to St. Louis in rental cars.
Mo says team needs to consecutive days of negative tests in order to be cleared to travel. The positive cases have been sent back to St. Louis already, so the hope at some point becomes that the remainder of the travelling party will stop testing positive, so travel can occur.— Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12) August 3, 2020
The postponements have crept along slowly over the last week as each new day brought reports of more positive tests for the Cardinals organization. After the initial cancellation of last Friday's game in Milwaukee, MLB scheduled a doubleheader for the Cardinals and Brewers for Sunday, August 1. They didn't even immediately cancel Saturday's game.
Since then, we've seen the entire Brewers series and four games against the Tigers—originally scheduled to take place between Detroit and St. Louis from Monday through Thursday this week, then modified for all four games to occur in Detroit from Tuesday through Thursday—all postponed indefinitely.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the ‘Field of Dreams’ game scheduled between the Cardinals and White Sox for August 13 in Dyersville, Iowa has also been postponed to 2021, though Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said he had not heard anything about the status of that game as of Monday afternoon.
The nature of the ever-expanding list of postponements and cancellations paints a startling picture of the extent of the outbreak for the Cardinals.
"I imagine I was a bit naive," Mozeliak said of his initial hope that the Cardinals' positive tests would be limited to the two initially discovered last Thursday following Wednesday's round of testing. "I think it grew a lot quicker than I thought. I will say, once we started digging in on the contact tracing heavily and thoroughly, where we ended up is not surprising me. But I will say that's a bit hindsight. I don't want to act like, 'Oh, I thought this is where it was headed.' But it shows you, really, how quickly something like this can spread."
There's no question that the spread of the virus within the organization has been substantial; Mozeliak said that as of Monday, eight of the 13 positive cases were experiencing mid symptoms of COVID-19, with the other five presenting as asymptomatic.
What does stand out as a relevant question: How did the Cardinals outbreak begin in the first place?
It's fair to wonder considering that, among the 30 Major League Baseball teams, only two have experienced anything resembling an outbreak in their clubhouse. The Miami Marlins reportedly experienced as many as 20 positive cases in an eight-day span beginning July 24. While the Cardinals are hopeful their totals don't continue to grow to rival Miami's, St. Louis has already endured a case total significant enough to draw attention from around the baseball universe.
As MLB players, fans and media have sought answers to explain the Cardinals' growing infections, team officials have continuously expressed a sense of comfort with the degree to which the team has adhered to the MLB protocols when they're away from the field.
Mozeliak reiterated that belief Monday, emphasizing the outbreak as emblematic of the difficulty surrounding playing a season in the midst of a pandemic rather than anything specific the Cardinals have done outside the bounds of the protocols.
"In fairness, you're in a pandemic," Mozeliak said. "It's almost impossible to say that we can build a dome around ourselves and move from city to city, move from our home to the ballpark. Look, I'd be the first to tell you, I've stopped to put gas in my car. My wife's called me and said 'Hey, can you get something at the grocery store?' I've done that. So I feel like what you guys are asking far is something I can't give. We understood there was going to be risk. Yeah, veteran players said, 'Look, we've got to protect each other.' Shildty has said it. I've said it. But I think that's just the inherent risk of playing under a pandemic. It's—you know, I guess would it feel better if 'Oh, someone was at a strip joint,' and that just made this answer easier?
"The point is, anything we happen. We try to put things in place that would prevent this from happening. But it just shows you how challenging that is."
Mozeliak was also asked to directly address a circulating rumor that some members of the Cardinals had recently visited a casino, causing the current outbreak.
"I have no factual reason to believe that is true. And I have not seen any proof of that," Mozeliak said. "If someone was at a casino, though, that would be disappointing."
The Cardinals president of baseball operations also noted the team's belief that the original infection occurred in St. Louis, before the team went on the road for a two-game series in Minnesota last Wednesday and Thursday.
With regard to protocols on the field, in the midst of baseball competition, Mozeliak acknowledged another layer of difficulty in convincing players to break habits that are so ingrained after a lifetime spent playing the game.
"Everybody's watched games, right? It does't take long to say, oh, look at what's happening there, that's not following protocol," Mozeliak said. "So I think we can all try to do a better job of that. We, as an organization, will certainly try. But there's only so much people who sit in my seat can do. We'll certainly try to tighten those up as we move forward.
"As a whole, the public is struggling with how to best contain it. When you think about baseball, there's a lot of habits that are hard to break. Someone hits a home run, you give him a high-five. You're trying to break these habits and change how we act during a game and that is challenging. But when we get back on the field, that's going to be a steadfast reminder that you've got to stay away from each other. You've got to avoid trying to cheer on your teammate with giving high-fives and touching. These are just practices that have to become normal.
"We have to recognize that this is not normal and we have to adjust to the new norm."