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Elephant Rumblings: Cardinals latest team with coronavirus outbreak; several MLB players opt out

MLB news roundup

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Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals
Lorenzo Cain opted out of the 2020 season
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

Baseball is not doing well on the coronavirus front. The Miami Marlins were already down for the count after 18 of their 33 active/taxi players tested positive for the virus, and the Philadelphia Phillies also stepped back as a precaution after playing the Marlins despite no new cases among their own players.

Now another team in another geographic region has an outbreak. The St. Louis Cardinals began reporting positive cases on Friday and are now up to six total, including three players, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Their weekend series against the Brewers was canceled, as was their scheduled Monday contest in Detroit.

For now, the plan is for the Cardinals to resume play Tuesday. The same goes for the Marlins, who have been quarantining for over a week. The Phillies will have to wait a bit longer, as their whole upcoming week has been postponed just in case.

This latest development in St. Louis is discouraging because it signifies an expansion of the problem toward the worst-case scenario. It was one thing when the virus was contained to just one team, especially since the geographic regions are separate and everybody plays only nine different opponents. But now there’s another team, and two-thirds of the regions are affected. Watch out for the Minnesota Twins, the last team to play the Cardinals last Tue/Wed.

Worse, there are concerns of some players not taking the pandemic seriously enough, and engaging in irresponsible extracurricular activities that increase their odds of carrying the virus back into their teams’ clubhouses. That led MLB to issue a reality check to the MLBPA about what they need to do to ensure the continued viability of the season, plus some tighter protocols for player behavior, including the addition of a Compliance Officer for each club to make sure everyone is following the guidelines.

With all of this in the background, several more players have chosen to opt out of the season, including stars like Lorenzo Cain of the Milwaukee Brewers and Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets. There are now 20 players around the league who have opted out and stayed out, and MLB Trade Rumors has a live tracker with the full list.

For now, the A’s and the rest of the West region have been able to avoid letting the virus leak into their ranks. But even if that remains true, it may not matter if enough of the rest of the Central and East regions get shut down, or if enough of a toll is taken by further opt-outs — not to mention the notable increase in injuries so far after everyone rushed to get ready for the resumption of play. The 2020 season is under serious threat, and we’ll find out a lot more about its chance of completion over the next week or two.

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