Update: Saturday’s game was also postponed after additional Cardinals personnel tested positive for the coronavirus. Sunday’s doubleheader against St. Louis remains on the schedule, for now at least.
The Milwaukee Brewers arrived at Miller Park on Friday morning set to finally play their home opener after a four-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
One big problem – the Brewers’ opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals, never made it to the ballpark. Two unspecified members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the postponement of the opener of a planned three-game series between the NL Central Division rivals.
Brewers players remained at Miller Park long enough to run through infield drills and take batting practice with the sun shining through the stadium’s open roof. The Cardinals remained in their suburban Milwaukee hotel and went through additional testing.
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“We are supportive of Major League Baseball’s decision to postpone today’s game and look forward to playing our home opener as soon as conditions safely allow,” said David Stearns, the Brewers’ general manager and president of baseball operations. “The health and safety of our players and employees are, and will continue to be, our top priorities.”
The Brewers now hope to play their first home game of the abbreviated 60-game slate on Saturday night. Friday’s planned game has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Sunday – one that will be played under MLB’s new rule that doubleheader games will be just seven innings in length.
“How we all handle the coronavirus is a challenge not only for baseball in finishing the season, it’s a challenge for all of us. We’ve all had to change our lives,” Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said during a virtual session with reporters. “We’re all committed to finishing the season. The question is how to best proceed so that we can see this season through.”
Attanasio said he had planned to attend the Brewers season-opening series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field last week but didn’t make the trip after his pilot tested positive for COVID-19.
“This is as difficult of a time that I can remember in my lifetime, between the challenges of a global pandemic and the social justice issues we are all confronting with systemic racism that is apparent in the country,” said Attanasio, who wore a black T-shirt with white block lettering that spelled out the words “justice, equality, now.”
“I’m wearing a T-shirt that the players came up with that they would have worn today,” he said. “The team got together, led by Lorenzo Cain and Brent Suter, to raise awareness in our community. We wanted to raise consciousness and lead to discussion. It’s important to hear each other’s views. Our mantra here is going to be listen, learn, act. We’re doing a lot of that. I’m very proud of our team for that.”
Attanasio said he “had a bit of a heads up from the league last night that something might be going on” concerning the Cardinals, who last played in Minneapolis on Wednesday night against the Twins.
“Our goal is to play baseball this year and see this all the way through,” he said. “I think everyone should realize that decisions are made in that context. It’s not necessarily a negative thing when a game is canceled.”
Attanasio said other sports are likely monitoring the situation with Major League Baseball and how it handles the current challenges tied to COVID-19.
“In some sense, because of the way things have evolved, we are in a leadership spot for other sports,” he said. “The NBA has the benefit of being able to work in a bubble, and they have fewer teams than we do. But I think the NFL is watching us closely because they got next.”
The Brewers sport a 3-3 record after a six-game road trip to start the season. They trail the NL Central-leading Cubs by one game in the standings.
“The level of play has been a little bit uneven. I think that’s probably expected,” Attanasio said.