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MLB NOTEBOOK

More positive tests, postponements, but Rob Manfred keeping the faith MLB can play

Miller Park in Milwaukee was again quiet on Saturday, the second attempt at the Brewers' home opener delayed when more members of the St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for coronavirus.
Miller Park in Milwaukee was again quiet on Saturday, the second attempt at the Brewers' home opener delayed when more members of the St. Louis Cardinals tested positive for coronavirus.Morry Gash/Associated Press

Just 1½ weeks into a pandemic-delayed regular season shortened from 162 games per team to 60, the coronavirus has forced 19 postponements in 11 days, including St. Louis’ three-game weekend series at Milwaukee.

The entire Cardinals-Brewers series at Miller Park was scrapped. After two St. Louis players tested positive, the whole Cardinals team was given rapids tests Friday and saliva samples were sent to an MLB laboratory that indicated a third player and multiple staff members may be positive.

In addition, the Cardinals will play four games at Detroit from Tuesday through Thursday, including a doubleheader Wednesday, rather than two games at Comerica Park followed by two at Busch Stadium. MLB said the changes were due to additional testing and monitoring of the Cardinals.

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Prior to that decision, Milwaukee Gold Glove center fielder Lorenzo Cain announced he will not participate in the rest of the 2020 season.

“With all of the uncertainty and unknowns surrounding our game at this time, I feel that this is the best decision for me, my wife, and our three kids,” Cain said in a statement. “I wish all of my great teammates the best of luck this season and look forward to getting back on the field in 2021. Please stay safe.”

Cain, 34 and signed through 2022, said the Brewers were understanding and supportive of his decision, something general manager David Stearns affirmed.

“He felt this was something that he needed to do,” Stearns said.

The Miami Marlins received no new positive results in their latest round of coronavirus testing, MLB said, but second-year second baseman Isan Díaz — a Springfield Central product — also opted out. At least 21 members of the Marlins’ traveling party have been infected by an outbreak at the start of a season-opening trip.

“I think that if everybody does what they are supposed to do, we can continue to play, have a credible season and get through the postseason,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Associated Press on Saturday.

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Manfred said Major League Baseball knows which player introduced COVID-19 into the Miami clubhouse, and had what he said was a constructive conversation Friday with union head Tony Clark, from which news broke that the season could be halted as soon as Monday if infections continue to increase. The commissioner said he expects stepped-up efforts by players and teams to adhere to special virus protocols put in place by MLB and the players’ association.

“It is what the public health experts have been saying from the beginning about this, that there is no one big magic fix,” Manfred said. “Once you have somebody who starts producing the virus, what seemed like harmless protocol code violations become serious issues.

“The protocols are a series of little things that people need to do. We’ve had some problems. In order to be better, it’s another series of little things. I think it’s peer pressure. I think it’s players taking personal responsibility. I think it’s the union helping us like Tony Clark helped us yesterday. And I think it’s us managing more aggressively.”

Still, he does expect more issues, suggesting for example that the expanded playoffs and using winning percentage would help deal with the likelihood all teams won’t play the same number of regular-season games.

“I don’t think it’s realistic to think that we’re not going to have any more positive tests,” Manfred said. “We’re going to be fluid. We think it’s manageable and we’re going to continue to try to manage it.”

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The Philadelphia Phillies, meanwhile, were permitted to access Citizens Bank Park for staggered workouts beginning in the afternoon. MLB said no Phillies players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week and while three staff members have tested positive, it appeared two were attributable to false positives and the third, based on the timing of the positive test, may not have contracted COVID-19 from the Marlins.

Mike Trout adds another honor to his laundry list: Fatherhood

Three-time AL Most Valuable Player Mike Trout and his wife, Jessica, announced the birth of their first child, a boy named Beckham Aaron Trout.

“Our greatest gift from above,” Mike Trout wrote on his Twitter account while posting a photo of Beckham. “We are so in love!”

The baby was born Thursday afternoon and weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces. Little Beckham’s middle name is undoubtedly a tribute to Aaron Cox, Jessica’s brother and Mike’s good friend, who died in 2018.

Trout, who turns 29 later this month, left the Angels on Thursday and was placed on the paternity list, which allows players to stay away from their teams for three days. Angels manager Joe Maddon said he believes Trout will return to the Angels shortly, but the team won’t rush him.

Detroit rainout sets up new-style doubleheader, angers Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer

The Tigers and Cincinnati Reds were rained out in Detroit, putting them in line to play Major League Baseball’s first doubleheader scheduled for seven-inning games on Sunday. The start of Saturday’s game was moved up five hours in an attempt to beat a forecast calling for a wet evening, but steady rain arrived during the national anthem. The game never got started and was called after a 55-minute wait, angering Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer. He was slated to start Saturday against Detroit righty Michael Fulmer; both pitchers warmed up expecting the game to be played, and thus both will likely be skipped Sunday. “You let starters get hot for the game and then delay it 8 minutes before game time,” he tweeted. “Never in my ten year career have I seen something so amateur. Not in the minor leagues. Not in the big leagues. Never saw it even in college. . . . Figure it the [expletive] out.” . . . Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller left his start against the Chicago Cubs with an injury in the third inning. The 24-year-old, one of Pittsburgh’s top young pitchers, surrendered long solo homers by Ian Happ and Javier Báez earlier in the inning. Happ was batting leadoff for the Cubs because Kris Bryant, batting .120 (3 for 25) in his first six games, was scratched because of gastrointestinal issues . . . San Diego placed first baseman Eric Hosmer on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Wednesday with gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining. Hosmer is off to a torrid start, hitting .500 with a homer and seven RBIs . . . The Chicago White Sox placed shortstop Tim Anderson, last year’s MLB batting champion, on the injured list with a strained right groin and recalled catcher Yermin Mercedes from their taxi squad before Saturday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals. Anderson had two of the White Sox’s four hits before leaving in the seventh inning Friday night with a sore hip. Leury Garcia started at shortstop in his place, batting seventh.

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