St. Louis Cardinals players were tested for coronavirus Wednesday at Target Field, played the Twins that night, then headed for Milwaukee. Cleveland moved into the same clubhouse Thursday and played the first game of a four-game series.
On Friday, the Cardinals got their test results and two players were positive for COVID-19. Their series opener against the Brewers was postponed.
That raised two immediate questions at Target Field.
First, were Cleveland personnel exposed to the virus by using the same dressing room?
And second, were Twins players exposed on the field when facing St. Louis?
The Twins-Cleveland series went on after both teams discussed the possibility of postponing Friday. In the end, the Cleveland side was satisfied with the explanation of the thorough disinfection the clubhouse went through. And Twins players were quickly tested, with no positives reported. Friday was a regular testing day for Cleveland.
Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said the team had rapid nasal swab testing, with results in 30 minutes.
“That doesn’t mean we’re entirely in the clear — we have to make sure that we test and monitor over the next few days,” he said.
Manager Rocco Baldelli said players started lining up for tests at 1 p.m.
“We knew we were probably going to have days like this,” he said. “How they were going to go exactly? We weren’t sure. It went relatively smoothly to this point.
“If we weren’t in a good place healthwise, we’d be having a different discussion.”
The visiting clubhouse staff members who had contact with St. Louis players Tuesday and Wednesday will not be at the stadium for the remaining five games of the homestand.
“When a team leaves, there’s a deep clean, there’s a process to cleaning the equipment for the team that comes in, before it even gets unloaded and unpacked in the clubhouse. All of that was followed, so I made sure that the Indians were aware of that,” Falvey said.
The Twins use disinfecting fogger machines to keep surfaces as clean as possible. Multiple Twins players have, up until this point, spoken of how safe they have felt in their altered work environment.
Still, players return to their homes and, for many, their families when not at the park. Visiting players are under partial quarantine-like protocols that technically are not enforced.
And that’s what led to baseball being rocked by an outbreak of the virus on the Miami Marlins, which has led to that team having six games postponed through Sunday. Four Miami players tested positive before a series at Philadelphia last weekend. The team played all three games of that series, then watched the number of infected players and staff soar to 20.
“The key,” Falvey said, “is to continue to understand what transpires outside of the park and behaviors outside of our environment. We just need to be very vigilant about that. We saw that the other day. We can’t become complacent about that across the board.”
At any rate, the Twins expect there will be more days like this where the pandemic becomes a major factor.
“There’s going to be virus-related issues with every team whether it’s you or the people you’re playing against,” Baldelli said. “It’s limiting that contact and limiting that interaction between everyone and letting those protocols hold up. You’re just trying to put yourself in a position to not let a bad situation get any worse.
“We’ve done that. I’m sure we’ll continue to do that. I do really believe that it ultimately comes down to personal responsibility, and I bet some groups are doing a better job than others.
“You can do everything right and still it may not work out perfectly.”