St. Louis Cardinals president John Mozeliak ties team's coronavirus outbreak to close quarters, dining halls

CHICAGO -- While declaring it "Opening Day" again for his team on Saturday, St. Louis Cardinals president John Mozeliak described what he thinks led to a coronavirus outbreak, which sidelined the Cardinals after just five games this season.

"We had some pretty tight rooms when we were up in Minneapolis," Mozeliak said before the Cardinals played the Chicago White Sox in a doubleheader on Saturday. "Some people thought they were healthy and they weren't and they had close contact in terms of discussions. At the time, if I had to guess, they were mask-less. We had it drilled down to possibly the dining halls."

In a series of housekeeping moves, the Cardinals placed four players on the COVID-19 injured list on Saturday while recalling five from their alternate site in Springfield, Missouri. In total, 10 players and eight staff members tested positive, none have returned to the field yet. The Cardinals will also play doubleheaders on Monday and Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs as they begin to make up lost ground in their schedule.

The Cardinals got off to a fast start in their first game since July 29, scoring four runs off the White Sox in the first inning of Game 1 on Saturday en route to a 5-1 victory. They followed that up with a 6-3 win in the second leg of Saturday's doubleheader.

Adam Wainwright, who earned the Game 1 win, noted how the Cardinals are trying to adhere more strictly to protocols. "We've had to tighten the ship a lot," Wainwright said. "Guys were trying to do the right thing before."

Outfielder Tyler O'Neill, who had three hits and a home run across both games, called the sweep "crazy" given everything the team had been through over the last two weeks while manager Mike Shildt praised his team for responding to a "historic situation."

"These two [wins] meant a lot for the group," Shildt said. "They showed their competitive spirit today."

The team has been adamant that the players weren't as reckless as is being portrayed in the media.

"What I can tell you, with confidence, is it would be very irresponsible and a misstep to say this group went out and did anything that was egregious," Shildt said Friday evening. "To say something otherwise would be inaccurate. Strongly inaccurate."

Mozeliak backed up those comments on Saturday morning but vowed further tightening of protocols, especially when it comes to eating.

"Take one of those 45,000 red seats and sit in there," he said of an empty Busch Stadium. "We'll have tables in the concourse. One chair per table."