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Oakland A’s eye possible Thursday return to action after coronavirus test

For now, A’s games are postponed through Wednesday

MLB: AUG 16 Athletics at Giants
If your name is Matt then get that mask on!
Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are temporarily out of action after someone in the team’s traveling party received a positive test for coronavirus on Sunday, from a test taken Friday. However, they are already making progress toward a potentially quick return to action.

The A’s announced Monday that they have officially postponed their games for Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle against the Mariners. That leaves Thursday as the earliest possible return date, and that scenario is still on the table if all goes well and the virus doesn’t spread to anyone else, suggests Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.

Oakland has already passed the first test toward that end, literally. The full team was tested on Sunday after news of their co-worker’s confirmed case, and everybody came back negative, reports Slusser. They took a second round of testing on Monday to follow up, and are still awaiting those results, per Slusser.

The A’s postponed their game last Sunday against the Houston Astros after the positive test was revealed, but Monday was already scheduled as an off-day for travel. They were set to play three in Seattle from Tue-Thu, and if they do get cleared in time for Thursday then it’s possible they could play a doubleheader to make up one of the games they’re missing against the Mariners.

That won’t be the only twin-bill they play this month, though. Before the virus issue, they sat out their games last Thursday (against the Texas Rangers) and Friday (against the Astros) as part of league-wide protests against racial injustice and police violence. The Friday game was made up the next day, but the Sunday game they missed due to the virus could be made up as a doubleheader when the Astros visit the Coliseum later this month (from Sept. 7-10). The Rangers game is already officially re-scheduled as a doubleheader for Sept. 12, when the A’s go to Arlington again.

Oakland hosts the Mariners one more time this summer, for the final three games of the regular season, offering a potential opportunity to make up any final missed games against them — assuming such a thing is necessary in the final days of the campaign, depending what the standings look like at the time.

Here’s a summary of the recent calendar, beginning last Thursday (Aug. 27), with outstanding postponements marked in bold font:

  • Thu vs. Rangers, postponedmakeup Sept. 12
  • Fri vs. Astros, postponed but already made up the next day
  • Sat vs. Astros, completed (plus Fri makeup completed)
  • Sun vs. Astros, postponednot yet rescheduled
  • Mon (scheduled off-day)
  • Tue vs. Mariners, postponednot yet rescheduled
  • Wed vs. Mariners, postponednot yet rescheduled
  • Thu vs. Mariners, still on the table
  • Fri vs. Padres, still on the table

If the A’s continue to test negative and hold their absence to just four days, then they’ll have matched the majors’ best-case scenario this year. Four other teams have pressed paused due to virus cases, with the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals missing substantial time to large outbreaks — more than two weeks for the Cards. However, when the New York Mets had two positive tests and no second wave, they postponed only four games over a five-day span, and when the Cincinnati Reds had one case it only cost them three games over four days. Oakland’s current path could have them matching what the Reds did.

While the ideal would be to never have a virus case at all, the timing of this interruption comes at a particularly convenient moment for the A’s. On Saturday they lost shortstop Marcus Semien to a day-to-day side injury, and he’s the single least replaceable player on the roster due to the team’s lack of depth at his position. They have backup plans for every other spot in the lineup and pitching staff, but there’s virtually nobody MLB-ready waiting behind Semien without shoehorning someone into a position they’re not used to. And that’s before considering that Semien is a star in his own right, having placed third in AL MVP voting last year. Every day they sit out is one day fewer that they need to use an emergency stopgap at the most important position on the diamond (non-pitcher/catcher division).

Here’s hoping for health and safety for everyone on the A’s, and a prompt return to the field by Thursday!