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Commissioner Manfred: Once outbreak halts, Cardinals can still be a 'credible competitor' without complete season

Commissioner Manfred: Once outbreak halts, Cardinals can still be a 'credible competitor' without complete season

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Cubs Cardinals Baseball

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, right, and St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. wait to be introduced before a baseball game between the Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, Sunday, April 2, 2017, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Although a substantial slice of the Cardinals' season has been postponed and their return to play is still unknown due to the novel coronavirus' spread through their roster, commissioner Rob Manfred believes there is time remaining for the Cardinals to play a “credible” season if not a complete 60-game season.

“I think whether you get all the way to 60 or not, that’s difficult at this point,” Manfred said in a phone interview Monday afternoon with the Post-Dispatch. “I think it’s possible for them to play enough games to be credible, to be a credible competitor in this season.”

The Cardinals continue to quarantine at their St. Louis residences and undergo daily testing for the COVID-19 virus. The tests the team took Sunday all came back negative, a source confirmed. That puts another day between them and their most recent positive tests – and a day closer to reaching Major League Baseball protocols for their return. The Cardinals and Major League Baseball have adopted a more conservative approach this week after requiring the team two consecutive days of negatives before returning from Milwaukee.

At the earliest the Cardinals could return to the field, they will have gone more than two weeks since their last game.

Asked if he sees an avenue for their return, Manfred said yes.

“One hundred percent,” the commissioner said. “I absolutely see a path back for the Cardinals. That is dependent on getting enough days with no positives that we’re comfortable with, that we don’t have a contagion risk. But, yes, 100 percent I see a path back.”

The Cardinals have had 10 players and seven staff members test positive for the coronavirus in the past 12 days. The team’s return to the field to face the Cubs this past weekend was derailed when less than 72 hours after their most recent positive test they had three more, including two players. That forced the team into quarantine for a second time in eight days and prompted additional concern and the team removing itself from the schedule for the entirety of the six-game home stand.

With Monday's postponement of the doubleheader Thursday in Detroit, the Cardinals have had 15 consecutive games postponed. To reach 60 games, the Cardinals would have to have to make up a fourth of the schedule in a third less of the time.

Major League Baseball will work to adjust their schedule, understanding that the calendar may run out before the scheduled games are complete. At that point, the commissioner’s office has said that winning percentage will be used to determine playoff berths.

The schedule can wait while the focus is on the outbreak.

“Everything that has gone on right now is about controlling the outbreak,” Manfred said. “We want to control the outbreak with the Cardinals and make sure we don’t cross-contaminate. It’s really that simple.”

Much more from the Post-Dispatch’s interview with the commissioner of Major League Baseball coming later today at STLtoday.com and in Tuesday’s print edition.

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