10:32am:The league announced that tonight’s game has been postponed. They’ll attempt to make it up as part of a doubleheader Sunday. MLB’s statements reads as follows:
Todays scheduled game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park has been rescheduled as part of a traditional doubleheader on Sunday, August 2ndat 1:10 p.m. (CT). The rescheduling as a result of two positive COVID-19 tests in the Cardinals organization is consistent with protocols to allow enough time for additional testing and contact tracing to be conducted.
That statement seems to represent a departure from the protocols of just one week ago, when the Marlins/Phillies series was played to completion despite as many as seven known positive cases by Sunday. It’s surely frustrating for some fans to see, but it’s also in the best interest of completing a 2020 season to update protocols based on the efficacy of the standing regulations.
9:35am: SportsGrid’s Craig Mish tweets that two Cardinals players have tested positive so far. Both were pitchers, Saxon adds.
9:25am: The Athletic’s Mark Saxon reports that if the remainder of the Cardinals’ roster tests negative, the series against the Brewers could still begin tomorrow. It remains unclear how many players and/or staff members on the club have tested positive, however.
8:47am: Tonight’s game between the Brewers and Cardinals will be postponed due to positive Covid-19 tests within the Cardinals organization, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitterlinks). Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that the Cardinals are isolating at their hotel and have not been to Miller Park.
It’s a discouraging development for the league, which had previously emphasized that the current outbreak within the sport was contained within the Marlins organization. Neither the Brewers nor the Cardinals have played (or will play) the Marlins in 2020 under the realigned schedule.
The number of positive tests will be telling, but it’s easy to imagine widespread implications. The Brewers will obviously be directly impacted, but they’re unlikely to be alone. The Cardinals just traveled to Milwaukee from Minneapolis, for instance, after completing a two-game set with the Twins. Minnesota hosted the Indians last night, meaning the Cleveland players and staff were in the same visitors clubhouse that had just hosted the Cardinals. Both the Twins and Indians, then, could feel the impact of the Cardinals’ tests even if none of the players on either roster have tested positive yet. The Pirates, whom the Cardinals played in their first series of the season, are also likely on alert after today’s news. The Cards had been scheduled to take on the Tigers next week, but as we saw with the Marlins, Phillies and their upcoming opponents, that now could be subject to change, too.
The hope, of course, is that the number of positives is minimal or even singular. Postponing a game based on a small number of positive tests would surely draw some criticism from fans, but the league would be justified in pointing to the prior Marlins outbreak as justification for not allowing a series to commence after a small number of players tested positive. The Marlins had four positives prior to that series, played the three games anyhow, and by yesterday were up to a staggering 17 positives among players and two on the coaching/training staff.
The Marlins have received yet another positive Covid-19 test among their players, bringing the total to an alarming 18 cases, Daniel Alvarez Montes of El ExtraBase reports (via Twitter). The Marlins also have two positive cases on their coaching/training staff, bringing the total to 20 members of the team’s traveling party.
In better news for the Marlins, veteran outfielder Matt Joyce, who missed all of Summer Camp, has tested negative and been cleared to join the team, per SportsGrid’s Craig Mish (Twitter link). To be clear, Joyce was not counted among the 18 positive Marlins cases that have emerged since Opening Day.
Miami’s entire alternate training site reportedly tested negatively recently, and they’ve added several new players via waivers and free agency as they look to offset the enormous toll that the Covid-19 outbreak has taken on their team. It’s troubling, though, that players continue to test positive even though it’s now been five days since the team completed its final game of the opening series against the Phillies. Presently, Miami is slated to resume play early next week, but it’s not clear if the continual positive tests will impact that.
Certainly, the risk of further spreading Covid-19 infections throughout the league is the primary concern, but there’s also the matter of the Marlins being able to field a Major League roster whenever they do seek to return to the field. The team has additional players in reserve at its alternate training site, but of the group that opened the season there, only four had Major League experience (Ryan Lavarnway, Travis Snider, Jordan Yamamoto and Josh A. Smith).
The Marlins have since claimed Mike Morin, Justin Shafer and Josh D. Smith off waivers in addition to signing Logan Forsythe and Pat Venditte. Their additions are crucial, as the Marlins opted to take a very young group to alternate camp for development purposes. A dozen players there are 22 years old or younger — many of them not particularly close to MLB ready. Joyce will presumably need some time to ramp up at their alternate site, but he’ll give the Fish a much-needed option in the relatively near future.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this week that the Marlins outbreak does not qualify as a “nightmare” scenario, although at that point, there were 11 known positives on the roster as opposed to the current 18. And while the positive tests since Opening Day had been confined to the Marlins until this morning, the Cardinals have now reportedly had a pair of players test positive as well, causing their scheduled game in Milwaukee to be postponed.
There’s still no official timeline on Andrelton Simmons’ return from his latest ankle injury, but the Angels shortstop said Thursday that his injury isn’t as bad as the ankle issue that cost him more than a month of his 2019 season, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. The slick-fielding shortstop hasn’t undergone an MRI to this point and noted that his range of motion is already improving.
Simmons had two separate IL stints for problems in the same ankle last year and limped to a .264/.309/.364 slash line in 424 plate appearances. However, his 2017-18 numbers with the Angels had seemed to indicate an upward trajectory with the bat: .285/.334/.419 in 304 games. A strong 2020 output might cause teams to view the 2019 season as an outlier for Simmons, a free agent this winter, but the recurrence of ankle troubles shortens his window to perform and serves as a red flag for interested clubs. Obviously, it’s also a critical loss for an Angels club that spent significantly this winter and hopes to return to the the postseason in this year’s expanded format. Simmons is among this generation’s most gifted defenders and leads all MLB players, regardless of position, with 192 Defensive Runs Saved since his 2012 debut. (Kevin Kiermaier is second … at 115.)
Some more injury updates from around the game…
- Jake Odorizzi threw a bullpen session yesterday and feels that his lower back strain has healed, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. However, the right-hander will still face some live hitters at the Twins’ alternate training site over in St. Paul before he’s activated from the injured list. Odorizzi tabbed Monday as a potential date to face hitters. Right-hander Randy Dobnak could get another start as Odorizzi finalizes his rehab. The 30-year-old Odorizzi enjoyed a career year with the Twins in ’19, pitching to a 3.51 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 0.91 HR/9 in 159 innings. He accepted a one-year, $17.2MM qualifying offer last November and will be a free agent again this winter.
- Clayton Kershaw could join the Dodgers’ rotation as soon as Sunday or Monday, manager Dave Roberts told reporters Thursday evening (link via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com). The three-time Cy Young winner and five-time NL ERA leader was scratched from his Opening Day start just hours before first pitch due to back tightness and replaced by rookie Dustin May. Since Kershaw hit the IL, the Dodgers have also lost Alex Wood, prompting them to bring up another young right-hander, Tony Gonsolin, to take the ball in tonight’s game. Kershaw tossed a bullpen session yesterday, and all indications right now are that his IL stint will be rather brief.
- The Reds announced yesterday that they’ve reversed their option on right-handed reliever Matt Bowman and instead placed him on the 10-day injured list due to an elbow sprain. That’s both an ominous diagnosis for the 29-year-old Bowman and important distinction with regard to service time. Because Bowman was determined to have an injury that existed prior to being optioned to alternate camp, he’s been brought back up and placed on the Major League injured list, where he’ll receive MLB service time and MLB pay. The Reds didn’t offer a potential timeline for Bowman, who tossed 32 frames for them a year ago and recorded a solid 3.66 ERA with 25 strikeouts against 13 walks (three intentional) with just two homers allowed.
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The Mets are off to a slow start at 3-4, and high-profile reliever Edwin Diaz hasn’t helped matters. Diaz, whom the Mets hoped would rebound this year after a subpar first season with the team in 2019, has allowed an earned run in two of three appearances this year. He struggled Thursday in a loss to the Red Sox, allowing four of five hitters to reach base. Afterward, manager Luis Rojas told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com and other reporters that Mets bigwigs will discuss whether to use Diaz in high-leverage situations going forward. Considering Diaz has only thrown 2 1/3 innings this season, it’s far too soon to say he won’t bounce back. Nevertheless, it’s stunning to see how far he has fallen off since a tremendous run with the Mariners from 2016-18. The Mets’ decision to trade for Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano continues to look worse and worse.
- Infielder Jed Lowrie joined the Mets in the same offseason as Diaz and Cano, but he has barely played for the club. Now in the second season of a two-year, $20MM contract, various injuries have limited Lowrie to nine games and eight plate appearances as a Met. He hasn’t played yet this season, and the reason became somewhat more clear Thursday. It turns out that Lowrie is dealing with PCL laxity in his left knee, according to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. It’s still unknown if Lowrie will play for the Mets this season, however.
- Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been out this season because of coronavirus complications, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told Greg Hill of WEEI on Thursday (h/t: Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com) that they believe he will pitch this year. We do expect to get him back, Bloom said. I couldnt tell you exactly when. Obviously, were fortunate in that the complication that he had was very mild in terms of the severity of it.” Rodriguez went on the injured list July 7 after testing positive for the virus and has been dealing with a heart issue related to the illness lately. If healthy, he’ll unquestionably be the No. 1 starter in a Boston staff that’s rife with problems.
- The Tigers are placing oufielder Cameron Maybin on the injured list because of a strained quad, Evan Woodbery of MLive.com relays. Maybin suffered the injury Thursday, just the sixth game since the once-touted Tigers prospect returned to Detroit for a third stint. The club signed Maybin to a one-year, $1.5MM deal in free agency.
Even though the White Sox have begun the season without one of their top prospects, second baseman Nick Madrigal, it doesn’t seem as if he’ll wait much longer to make his MLB debut. Director of player development Chris Getz said Thursday (via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times) that Madrigal is “pretty close” to joining the club, though he didn’t provide a timeline for when it could happen.
Now 23 years old and a top 100 prospect, Madrigal became a member of the White Sox when they chose him fourth overall in the 2018 draft. Madrigal, who’s a diminutive 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, has only hit four home runs in professional ball since the Sox drafted him, but he has nonetheless been productive. He reached the Triple-A level for the first time last season and slashed .331/.398/.424 (117 wRC+) across 134 plate appearances. The hope is he’ll maintain those type of numbers (or even exceed them) when he reaches the White Sox, who also boast the steady trio of first baseman Jose Abreu, shortstop Tim Anderson and third baseman Yoan Moncada in their infield.
With Madrigal off their 30-man roster in the early going, the White Sox have primarily gone with Leury Garcia at second base. Garcia has never been a threat at the plate, though, and with Chicago off to a 2-4 start in a 60-game season, it may behoove the club to bring up Madrigal in the very near future. Service time shouldn’t be a concern for the White Sox in regards to Madrigal in the coming days, as keeping him down for a week of games will clinch an extra year of control for the team.
The Giants announced Thursday that infielder Kean Wong and outfielder Jose Siri have cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Sacramento.
Wong was not in the Giants’ 60-man player pool, which means he’s technically still eligible to be added to the pool and selected to the big league roster this season. Siri, who was in the player pool, remains in the organization but cannot be added back to the pool — at least not with the Giants. Siri is still eligible to be traded elsewhere by virtue of beginning the season on a 40-man roster/Major League contract; that’s the same rule that allowed the Orioles to trade Hector Velazquez to the Astros yesterday even though he’d previously been removed from Baltimore’s player pool (also via outright).
Wong, the younger brother of Cardinals second basemanKolten Wong, was the Rays fourth-round pick back in the 2013 draft and made his MLB debut as a September call-up with Tampa Bay last year. He barely saw any big league time (seven games) but enjoyed a second consecutive quality season at the plate, hitting.307/.375/.464 slash with 10 homers, 29 doubles, six triples and six steals. Offense was elevated throughout the league in Triple-A, but Wongs output checked in at 16 percent better than league average, as measured by wRC+. Primarily been a second baseman in his minor league career, Wong has also seen time at third base and in the outfield.
Siri, 24, spent the 2013-19 seasons in the Reds organization after signing as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic. At one point he was considered one of the Reds best prospects, but the shine has worn off him in recent years. Siri raked at a .293/.340/.531 clip with 24 homers and 46 stolen bases as a 21-year-old in Class-A back in 2017, but in the two seasons since that time hes posted a disappointing .238/.297/.397 slash between Double-A and Triple-A.
Just one start into his tenure with the Reds, southpaw Wade Miley is headed to the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Miley joins righty Anthony DeSclafani (strained teres major) as the second member of the Reds’ rotation to go on the IL since last week.
The 33-year-old Miley, who put forth a solid 2019 effort as a member of the Astros, was one of the Reds’ many notable offseason pickups. The Reds signed him to a two-year, $15MM contract in free agency, but his Cincinnati stint has gotten off to an inauspicious start in the early going. The Cubs tuned up Miley for six runs (five earned) on four hits over 1 2/3 innings in his 2020 debut Monday. In fairness to Miley, though, manager David Bell revealed he “didnt feel 100 percent and didnt feel great” in that game. Now, the Reds are hopeful that Miley will return in short order.
Without Miley and DeSclafani, who Fay notes is doing better, the Reds will keep Tyler Mahle in their rotation behind Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer. Castillo, Gray and Bauer have been excellent thus far, but the playoff-hopeful Reds have only mustered a 2-4 start.
7:01pm: An agreement has been reached, per Jeff Passan of ESPN. Seven-inning doubleheaders will take effect Aug. 1.
6:12pm: Major League Baseball and the union are moving toward an agreement on 2020 doubleheaders, Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark of The Athletic reports. If the two sides reach a deal, doubleheaders would consist of a pair of seven-inning games, but it would only be for this year, according to Rosenthal and Stark.
The idea behind this would be for teams to preserve their pitchers, per Rosenthal and Stark, and it could give every team a better chance of finishing its 60-game schedule during a pandemic-shortened season.
Teams such as the Marlins, Phillies, Yankees and Blue Jays have already seen their scheduled heavily altered just a week into the season because of coronavirus concerns. Neither Miami nor Philadelphia has played at all this week, and neither will take the field again until Tuesday at the earliest. As a result, they’ll have plenty of ground to make up over the next several weeks. Seven-inning doubleheaders could make it easier for them to catch up.
The Rangers will select the contracts of first baseman Greg Bird and right-hander Jimmy Herget prior to tomorrow’s game, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Texas already opened a 40-man roster spot by putting injured closer Jose Leclerc on the 45-day IL, but they’ll need to create another spot tomorrow. First baseman Ronald Guzman has already been optioned to the Rangers’ alternate training site, per the Rangers’ press release announcing Leclerc’s injury.
Bird inked a minor league deal with Texas over the winter. The longtime Yankees prospect at one point looked like the first baseman of the future in the Bronx, when he debuted at 22 and slashed .261/.343/.529 slash with 11 homers through just 46 games back in 2015. Unfortunately for Bird, he missed the entire 2016 campaign after shoulder surgery and has been hobbled by injuries since. Lingering ankle issues required another surgery for the slugger, and his 2019 campaign was torpedoed by plantar fasciitis. With the emergence of Luke Voit, the Yankees cut Bird loose rather than tender him a contract this winter.
Now 27, Bird joins the Rangers’ roster as a lifetime .211/.301/.424 hitter. He’s not expected to serve as the everyday first baseman — that role is handled by veteran Todd Frazier — but Bird will be mixed in there and at designated hitter on occasion. In the meantime, Guzman, a former top prospect himself, will get some time to work things out at alternate camp.
As for Herget, he’ll be getting his second look in the Majors after debuting with the Reds a year ago. He only tossed 6 1/3 frames with Cincinnati and allowed three runs in that time. The 2015 sixth-round pick carries a career 3.12 ERA with better than a strikeout per frame in 150 2/3 Triple-A innings, but he’s also averaged four walks per nine in that time.