The Cardinals’ outbreak is one of two that have arisen in the past week, casting doubt on the sport’s ability to contain the virus and safely navigate a 60-game regular season. The Miami Marlins have seen 18 players and two coaches test positive in the past week, putting their season on hiatus until at least Monday. News of the Cardinals’ latest positive tests was first reported Saturday by former big league third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who is now the co-host of a podcast.
Both outbreaks occurred during road trips, with the Cardinals’ believed to have originated in Minneapolis, where they played against the Minnesota Twins before continuing on to Milwaukee. The Cardinals are likely to remain in self-isolation at their Milwaukee hotel, where they are undergoing daily coronavirus testing and contact tracing.
Saturday also brought two new opt-outs from players — Brewers all-star center fielder Lorenzo Cain and Marlins infielder Isan Diaz — illustrating the growing lack of confidence from some players in the sport’s ability to keep participants safe. Diaz was not among the 18 Marlins played who tested positive; those infected players were in the midst of an overnight trip on multiple buses from Philadelphia, where they had been in self-isolation at the team hotel since July 27, to Miami.
“This has been a tough week to see so many of my teammates come down with this virus, and see how quickly it spreads,” Diaz wrote in an Instagram post. “ … This has been a decision that I have discussed with my family, and I feel it’s the best one for me and my overall well-being.”
The news comes at the start of the second weekend of the 2020 season and a critical juncture in the sport’s fight against coronavirus. Six of the sport’s 30 teams — the Cardinals, Brewers, Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays — are sidelined, with the latter four stemming from the Marlins’ outbreak.
The Phillies, who have been on hiatus since Monday after hosting the Marlins for three games last weekend, reported no new positive tests on Saturday and were allowed to resume workouts at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Assuming no new positives in the meantime, their season is expected to resume Tuesday.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has been mostly silent in recent days — outside of an interview July 27 on MLB Network, in which he said the Marlins outbreak was not a “nightmare” scenario and expressed confidence in the sport’s health and safety protocols — but the mood around the sport has grown darker over the past 48 hours. Manfred, according to several media reports, told union chief Tony Clark the season could be shut down in the coming days if the situation does not improve.
“This is veering quickly into ‘shut all of MLB down’ territory for me,” tweeted Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at Oxford College of Emory University, in the wake of Saturday’s news regarding the Cardinals. “At these numbers whether it’s players or staff is largely irrelevant to the decision of when to resume — and the answer is emphatically not [Sunday]. You have a large outbreak in a traveling party that spends time indoors together. Assume anyone could be infected at this point.”