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Cardinals have first COVID-19 positive test of entry screening; no players have opted-out of season

Cardinals have first COVID-19 positive test of entry screening; no players have opted-out of season

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Busch Stadium, as seen in late March through the locked gate behind the left-field bleachers. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

The Cardinals began entry screening this past weekend for the start of their “summer camp,” and Monday night an official confirmed that the team had its first positive test for COVID-19 during the process.

Per Major League Baseball protocols, the unidentified individual did self-quarantine and will be retested before any further steps are taken by the team. The Cardinals submitted a 44-man roster to Major League Baseball for the start of their three-week preseason camp, which opens Friday at Busch Stadium.

All teams have access to a COVID-19 injured list for players who show symptoms, test positive, or have family members who do.

Throughout the majors Monday, several players, including former Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake, were revealed to have opted out of participating in the 2020 season.

The Cardinals have had no players notify the club that they intend to opt-out of the 2020 season, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak confirmed.

Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond revealed on Instagram that he would not play in the 2020 season. In a detailed post, which you can read here, Desmond talks about revisiting the Little League fields of his youth in Sarasota, Fla., and how he's wrestled with events of the past two months in the country. He concludes his post by saying he won't play in 2020.

“This COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking," he writes, and the following capitalized letters are his. "But that doesn’t mean I’m leaving baseball behind for the year. I’ll be right here, at my old Little League. … With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now. … Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil rights and life. Home to be their Dad.”

Washington Nationals fixture Ryan Zimmerman, through the team, also announced that he would not play and multiple reports said Joe Ross of the Nationals had also elected not to play. Players who are considered high-risk individuals can opt out of the season and receive full salary and service time. Players who are not high risk and are choosing not to play will not be paid for the year.

The Cardinals owed Arizona $4 million of Leake's salary, and his decision at the prorated rate of the shortened season saves them about $1.3 million.

As part of Major League Baseball's intake screening, players go through a temperature check, a test for the active coronavirus, and an antibody exam. Following the test, players and other essential staff, like the manager and coaches, are assigned a quarantine for 24 to 48 hours while they await the results of the tests.

The Cardinals began intake exams Saturday.

Players and staff who do not have a positive diagnostic exam are cleared to report to the facility for preseason workouts. These tests will be conducted every other day, according to MLB procedure.

If a player or essential staffer tests positive for the active virus during intake screening, the individual must "continue to self-isolate," MLB's operations manual states. That process, by rule, starts with wearing a face covering and restricting all activities outside the home. Part of the process to return to the team includes two negative tests, taken 24 hours apart, and being without a fever for at least 72 hours. The individual must also complete one antibody test following the positive test.

The guidelines provided by MLB also suggest any local policies, such as city or county policies, must be followed before the person can return.

Players who are placed on the COVID-19 injured list are not required to stay there a minimum number of days as they would be on baseball's other injured lists. The players do not count against the active roster. However, for that player to return to the active roster or 40-man roster a transaction must be made to clear a spot.

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