Cardinals players will return to action in a Saturday double-header at Guaranteed Rate Field, taking on the Chicago White Sox.
After barely beginning a season set to be the strangest in MLB history, the St. Louis Cardinals were shut down after just five games. Their last contest came against the Minnesota Twins more than two weeks ago, ending on the wrong side of a series sweep.
The reason for this shutdown? COVID-19 broke out among the team’s roster and personnel, with at least 10 players testing positive. At least seven staff members also tested positive over the last two weeks. The entire process proved frustrating for the club. At two separate points during their break, the team thought it was on track to play again. Instead, they received news of more positive tests.
With Saturday’s resumption of play, the Cardinals return on a path toward baseball’s expanded postseason. The club is also well aware of what difficulties lie ahead. Multiple scheduling revisions by Major League Baseball will see St. Louis play 33 games in the month of September. For those keeping track at home, that’s a total of 33 games in just 25 days. Seven of those days will hold a double-header.
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With such a massive outbreak, roster decisions will also be difficult going forward. Positive tests from Paul DeJong, Yadier Molina, Ryan Helsley and others force the Cardinals front office to consider alternate options. Several first-timers, including Seth Elledge and Rob Kaminsy will be called up before Saturday’s contests.
Among them will be heralded prospect and outfielder Dylan Carlson.
Carlson is the top prospect in the Cardinals minor league system, and tore up the Double-A and Triple-A scene last season. In all, he batted .292/.372/.542 with 26 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 126 games between the two levels. Fans have been excited for his callup since before the season’s beginning, arguing his presence in a light-hitting outfield was critical. Carlson is currently ranked 18th on MLB’s list of the top 100 prospects.
Willie McGee, former Cardinal and current coach for the team, also opted out of the remainder of St. Louis’ season on Friday. During the club’s outbreak of positive tests, McGee expressed concern to team officials. Though McGee himself never tested positive, the 61-year-old was granted the ability to return home to his family for the rest of the season.
In a corresponding move, longtime coach José Oquendo will return to the Cardinals major league staff for Saturday’s game. Oquendo had been conducting workouts and instruction at the team’s secondary camp in Springfield, Missouri, earlier this season.
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