Cardinals series vs. Pirates postponed, team puts distance between new positive COVID-19 tests and next game

©St. Louis Post-Dispatch

What’s next for the Cardinals in the coming days will be an attempt to put greater distance between their next gathering at the ballpark and the outbreak that spread through more than a week of their season.

The Cardinals and Pirates three-game series set to start Monday at Busch Stadium has been postponed, a source confirmed. One reason for the complete series being postponed is the the Cardinals have received word Sunday of an additional positive since the three new positives Friday, two sources with knowledge confirmed.

The Cardinals identified this possibility as early as Thursday or Friday due to the contact tracing the team did to determine what players or staff had been exposed.

The team confirmed that Lane Thomas tested positive for COVID-19 from his Saturday test. The team had received some inconclusive results before, but Thomas had been identified as a probable positive because he is roommates with reliever Ryan Helsley. Helsley learned of his positive tests results either Thursday or Friday.

Major League Baseball has officially announced the postponement and added that the Cardinals’ situation will be updated “later in the week.”

“In light of the most recent positive test results, MLB and the Club believe it is prudent to conduct additional testing while players and staff are quarantined before the team returns to play,” the statement reads. “More information regarding the Cardinals’ resumption of play will be announced later in the week.”

That assures the Cardinals of 13 consecutive postponed games.

That will put at least two weeks between them and their most recent game, and the goal is to add days between the team and its most recent positive test. The Cardinals had spent six days in quarantine last week, and two days after leaving Milwaukee they had new positive tests. This has caused enough alarm that the team and Major League Baseball are exploring the number of days the Cardinals must remove themselves from the schedule.

The likelihood of Monday’s Pirates game being postponed was clear over the weekend. The postponement of the complete series was first reported by ESPN.

The postponement now leaves the Cardinals 46 days remaining on their schedule with 55 games to play. The Cardinals’ next scheduled game is a doubleheader in Detroit on Thursday, however there’s some question whether the team should be asked to return from a two-week hiatus with limited workouts to immediately travel and play a doubleheader. Cardinals opening day starter Jack Flaherty has not thrown an inning of competition since July 24, and by Thursday every pitcher on the staff will have gone two weeks without a pitch against an opponent.

How to arrange the schedule and protect against injury will have to be sorted out in the near future by the Cardinals and Major League Baseball. The first priority putting a stop to the outbreak.

The Cardinals continued to undergo testing Sunday and review the results of their virus tests from Saturday.

The team had three new positives Friday after going more than 48 hours as a team without a new positive. The Cardinals identified and isolated members of the traveling party through contact tracing in an attempt to determine the possibility of other positive tests this weekend.

The Cardinals expect to have clarity on their latest round of tests Sunday evening.

“Right now it’s really hard for me to determine what our next steps are going to look like,” president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Sunday morning on KMOX/1120 AM. “Fingers crossed we have no new positive sand we can take a step forward.”

The Cardinals’ outbreak has forced Milwaukee to go without a series against the Cardinals, the Cubs to head home to Wrigley Field on Friday and hold a intrasquad game there Sunday, and now the Pirates’ schedule will be upended by their division foe.

Asked if he saw way to fit a complete schedule into the shorter runway of weeks, Mozeliak said Friday that it was “mathematically” difficult.

If the Cardinals are unable to play play their full slate of 60 games, Major League Baseball has indicated it will use winning percentage to determine playoff berths.

The Cardinals already have five doubleheaders scheduled. The postponement of the six games on this homestand would require three more doubleheaders at some point.

Neither the Cubs nor Pirates visit Busch Stadium again this season.

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©2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch