Athletics Hope to Know Monday What's Next After Learning of a Positive COVID-19 Test

The Oakland Athletics have had a member of their organization test positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. General manager David Forst said the team will stay in Houston overnight, awaiting results of a new round of testing. Only then will the club know what's next.
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Oakland Athletics general manager David Forst said Sunday the team will stay in Houston Sunday night with the hope that the COVID-19 testing results from Sunday morning will be available Monday.

It will be only then that the A’s, who learned at 10 p.m. Saturday night they had the first member of their traveling party test positive for the coronavirus, will know what their next step will be.

The A’s, whose Sunday game with the Houston Astros was postponed, have an off-day Monday with a scheduled three-game series in Seattle set to begin Tuesday. Forst said, “Beyond today, we’re not going to speculate on anything.”

Forst said the organization wouldn’t be releasing the name of the person who tested positive and he wouldn’t say whether it was a player or a staff member.

He did say that as soon as the news of the positive test arrived, the contact tracing began and lasted into the morning. Contact tracing is part of the process by which persons who have been in contact with the person who tested positive can be identified and informed so as to enable them to better monitor their own health. Contacts are not given the name of the person who may have been the source of the infection.

“We hope to get the test results back by tomorrow morning,“ Forst said. “At that point we will huddle with MLB and their medical folks to figure out the next step.

“We ultimately need to see if this is an isolated infection or a larger issue. And the only way to do that is to be patient, make sure everybody isolates at the hotel, which they're doing today. And we'll wait until tomorrow to figure it out.”

About a dozen big league teams have had COVID-19 positive tests in the five weeks of Major League Baseball’s abbreviated 60-game season. The Cincinnati Reds and the New York Mets have both had positive tests recently, and have gotten through it to continue playing. The A’s hope to follow that model.

Forst spoke with members of the MLB office charged with handling cases like these and said the A’s have been offered guidance.

“They do have experience; the Reds and the Mets each recently had positive tests,” Forst said. “In both cases, they were able to identify it, isolate people, step back and allow the protocols to be effective, which they were in both of those cases. There was not further spread.

“I think, considering the success in those two scenarios, we’re gonna take all of our cues from their office and hopefully have the same result. But like I said, it’s too soon to know whether this is isolated or if there’s been more spread throughout the group.”

At the same time as this news came down, the A’s are waiting on word about the status of shortstop Marcus Semien, who had an MRI after coming down with soreness on his left side, pain that forced him out of the lineup for the first time in 275 games in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. And the trading deadline is Monday; already the A’s have made one deal, acquiring second baseman Tommy La Stella from the Angels for infielder Franklin Barreto.

Forst said the club doesn’t have a result yet on Semien, and said the trade deadline work won’t be impacted.

“I think we’re able to do more than one thing at a time,” he said. “But [the positive COVID-19 test] is our priority right now, making sure that our people are healthy and safe. We’ve spent since last night working on this. We’ll continue to check in with everybody during the day, and we’ll be able to handle a trade deadline thing is something comes up.”

As for the makeup of Sunday’s game, Forst said that’s not been a priority.

Both the A’s and Astros are off Monday, but the game will not be made up then. Houston comes to Oakland for a four-game series Sept 7-10, and a doubleheader could be played on one of those dates. Also, Monday, Sept. 14, so that would be an option, even possibly to play it in Houston so that the Astros, 2½ games behind the A’s in the American League West, wouldn’t lose a home date against their chief rival.

Both teams are off on Sept. 14, and the A’s will just be coming off a weekend series in Arlington, Texas, Sept. 11-13, and would be off before heading for a two-game series in Denver against the Rockies starting on Sept. 15. The Astros would be finishing up a series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers on the 13th before starting a series at home against the Rangers on the 15th.

Forst said he didn’t want to speculate on what his club’s mindset would be heading forward.

“I can't speak to the team's mindset,” he said. “I've talked to Bob [manager Bob Melvin] this morning. I’ve talked to the athletic trainers. But I wouldn’t want to speculate on that.

“Again, we don’t know yet exactly what we’re facing from a baseball standpoint, as far as how long we’re going to be out, when we’ll play next. We’ve got a resilient group of guys who’ve taken this seriously all along and who understand the sacrifices they’re making to play. They’ve performed well throughout, so I have confidence that we’ll get through this and get back to playing baseball when it’s appropriate.”

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Astros had a positive test at their alternate site in Corpus Christi, which was shut down as the Astros major league team also went into self-isolation. The Houston Chronicle reported that the Astros’ Corpus Christi site had been shuttered last week after one positive test, but had been reopened.

The A’s, who are now the 11th MLB team with a COVID-19 related postponement, had starting pitcher Jesús Luzardo test positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the resumption of training the first week of July, but hadn’t had a positive test since.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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