(Reuters) – Seven players and six staff members from the St. Louis Cardinals have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last week, Major League Baseball (MLB) said on Monday, forcing the postponement of the team’s series against the Detroit Tigers this week.
The series in Detroit, which was set to run through Thursday, is the latest set of games disrupted by the coronavirus, as the league scrambles to keep its already-shortened season on track less than two weeks after it began.
MLB said the Cardinals organization has been in quarantine since Thursday in Milwaukee, where the team was set to begin a series against the Brewers on Friday. Those games were also postponed due to positive COVID-19 results.
Brewers centerfielder Lorenzo Cain opted out of the rest of the 2020 season, the team said on Saturday, though it did not specify why. New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes opted out on Sunday, for “COVID-related reasons.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred last week defended the league’s COVID-19 protocols after numerous positive tests on the Miami Marlins came back just days after the season began.
Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter on Monday called for “empathy” for his players, saying the positive tests were not the result of any “salacious activity” but conceding that members of the traveling party “had a false sense of security and comfort.”
He added: “There was no hanging out at bars, no clubs … What it boiled down to on this particular trip was guys were around each other, they got relaxed and they let their guard down.”
Jeter noted that no player tested positive for the coronavirus during the league’s “Spring Training 2.0” ahead of the truncated, 60-game schedule kickoff.
“We have seen first-hand just how contagious this virus is,” said Jeter.
More than 155,000 people have died of COVID-19-related illness in the United States, the most in the world, as the number of new cases continues to climb week-over-week in 20 U.S. states.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis)