Fresh off his second straight excellent start to begin the challenging and abbreviated 2020 season, Jon Lester spoke with the media on a range of topics, including the next place he’s supposed to start: St. Louis.
The problem, of course, is that the St. Louis Cardinals are currently in the middle of a COVID-19 outbreak that has more than three players infected as well as multiple members of the staff. The total volume of the outbreak is not yet known, and may not be clear until tomorrow or Tuesday or Wednesday. Currently, the Cardinals are quarantining in Milwaukee, where they’ve been isolated since Wednesday night.
With that in mind, Lester was pretty straightforward when asked about the state of things, and how likely it is that the Cubs actually go play in St. Louis. Here’s what he said, per Sahadev Sharma:
Lester contd: I would imagine that we’re probably not playing those games this weekend, but I can’t fully speak to that. That’s just my opinion. Maybe there’s a way where we flip the schedule around and we’re playing somebody else. I think guys right now just want to keep playing— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) August 3, 2020
Lester contd: It sucks we’re dealing w this, but it’s the nature of the beast right now. If we’re in STL on Friday, then we’re in STL on Friday, we’ll figure it out. We’ll try to beat the Cardinals and move on to the next day. Right now, as of today, I don’t see that happening.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) August 3, 2020
Lester and the Cubs obviously have done very well so far both on and off the field, and I’m sure they don’t want to be confronted now by a disruption – or worse, a risk – that is totally out of their own hands. But safety is paramount.
Based on the Marlins’ timeline as a precedent, it seems like you’re not getting back on the field after an outbreak until you’re more than a week removed from the initial positive tests. If it goes that way, the upcoming Cardinals-Tigers series from Tuesday to Thursday would be postponed, and that would mean the Cubs series would be the very earliest the Cardinals could get back on the field. Even that would feel like pushing it if more positives come in tomorrow and/or Tuesday. Ideally, the Cubs aren’t just “off” for that weekend, so we’ll see if scheduling arrangements can be made. But I wouldn’t count on anything – good or bad – at this point. We’ll just see what the latest Cardinals tests reveal tomorrow.
Lester added that the Cubs just have to be focused on the Cubs, and on doing whatever is necessary and safe:
Lester on 7-2 start and COVID-season realities (2/2):— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) August 2, 2020
"…And if the commissioner comes and says we’re done, then we’re done. And if he says play on, then we play on. That’s all we can really focus on.”