The St. Louis Cardinals returned to the field for light workouts Wednesday, nearly a week after an outbreak of COVID-19 forced the club and its staff members to quarantine in Milwaukee and set the rest of their season into upheaval.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt called it “a breath of fresh air” after five days spent in The Pfister Hotel, where players tried to keep their arms limber by throwing baseballs into mattresses and pillows. The Cardinals had returned 13 positive tests in their traveling party, seven of them players, forcing them to suspend their season.
They were finally cleared to travel back to St. Louis late Tuesday, when they returned negative tests for the second straight day. Their flight left Wednesday morning and that gave them the afternoon and Thursday to get in workouts.
The Cardinals will resume their season against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night at Busch Stadium.
“You can’t take for granted even the freedom we have in a somewhat limited-freedom world when you’re in a hotel room for six straight days and you get outside,” Shildt said on a conference call. “It’s a nice feeling to feel that sun, and move around, and get a little sweat going and see the guys enjoying their workout.”
Now, the trick becomes filling out a roster decimated by injuries and disease.
Among the players that confirmed they tested positive for COVID-19 were a pair of All-Stars in catcher Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong. All-Star right-hander Carlos Martinez also went on the injured list, though no reason was given, which means the Cardinals will be down seven players when they take on their bitter NL Central rivals.