Daniel Mengden tested positive for Covid-19 on Aug. 29, leading the Oakland Athletics to postpone their last four games, A’s general manager David Forst announced Thursday afternoon.
The MLB announced hours later that the A’s (22-12) were cleared to play the San Diego Padres Series over Labor Day Weekend after postponing the final game in Houston along with the three-game series in Seattle.
Mengden was placed on the injured list, making room for 32-year-old left-handed pitcher Mike Minor, obtained Monday from the Texas Rangers for OF Marcus Smith and 3B Dustin Harris, a pair of 2019 Oakland draft picks. Minor (0-5, 5.60 ERA) led the AL pitchers in wins against replacement in 2019, but has had a tough start in 2020.
The Rangers paid the A’s $708,956, covering roughly half the $1,417,910 remaining in Minor’s salary in exchange for Smith and Harris. Smith was a third-round pick of Oakland, which earned him a $400,000 bonus. Harris was selected in the 11th round and the trade may signal that the A’s are intent on keeping Chappy in the green and yellow once he becomes a free agent, along with Matt Olson, after this season.
The A’s had already postponed their final game at the Texas Rangers in Texas to bring awareness to the Jacob Blake shooting. The following day, they postponed the first game against the Houston Astros on Jackie Robinson Day and, after a moment of silence, a Black Lives Matter shirt was placed on home plate.
After three days in their hotels in Houston without being able to work out or practice, the A’s returned to Oakland Tuesday and will play one of the hottest teams in baseball, the San Diego Padres, starting Friday then again face their division rivals, the Astros, on Monday.
Forst said the asymptomatic Mengden gave Forst permission to announce publicly that he had tested positive. No other players tested positive and the team has been cautious about who has been in close contact with Mengden prior to the day he took his test. Forst said:
“There was no breaking of protocols here, frankly that’s what’s scary where he got it, but I think that we have learned in the days since that hopefully we have done a really good job following the protocols in terms of guys wearing their masks, their distance in the clubhouse and other places and so far we have not had another positive test so, a lot of credit goes to the group that was traveling.”
Houston native Mengden will self-quarantine at his home, rather than in a hotel. According to the MLB, if a player tests positive, “he must test negative twice at least 24 hours apart, show no symptoms for 72 hours, and receive approval from team doctors.”
Mengden will continue to test over the following 14 days. Forst said the team is tested every other day and send their results to Salt Lake City and get the results back the next day.
The A’s don’t seem too worried about the off days, and compare it to the All-Star break they have to deal with every season. Forst said:
“But they were able to get to the field yesterday, [Wednesday] they will do the same today and I think were confident they’re going to get back to where they were… the scheduled is going to be different and it’s not unique to us. Other teams have dealt with it but we have three double-headers in six days…”
According to Forst, the team believes they will be physically ready Friday against the Padres (23-15), who beat the Angels on Wednesday 11-4. Fernando Tatis Jr.has made a name for himself, and it wasn’t just from his 3-0 count grand slam against the Rangers. Tatis has been consistent at the plate and is tied for the lead in the Majors for homers with 13, matching one of the greatest hitters of all time, Mike Trout, along with Nelson Cruz and Luke Voit, so far in 2020.
The Padres were the most aggressive team at the 2020 trade deadline, dealing as if they are aiming to win a World Series. San Diego pulled off six trades involving 23 players on a team that was already hot, making moves to make them truly feared by the rest of the league.
Melvin spoke about the Padres, and coming into a series against a team like that after so many days off:
“Their personnel looks a little different these past few days so obviously they are a team really going for it and it feels like they are in a position to have a great year and they’re playing well on top of it so probably not the best team to see after not playing for a while but its just the way it is. They have a good team and I feel like we have a good team and we’re excited to get back onto the field.”
The A’s are coming off a long break and, considering the 2020 season has teams playing pretty much everyday, the time off may be nice for players like Marcus Semien, who was unable to play in the second game of the double-header against the Astros on Aug. 29 due to left side soreness.
An MRI confirmed it as nothing too serious, and Semien had previously been able to play through it last season. This season, though, it has been a bigger issue, Melvin explained:
“He took ground balls, he threw yesterday and was actually doing some dry spins today, earlier when I saw him so I think he’s going to do something real limited in the cage today. It is one thing to just swing the bat without having to hit anything but the fact that he felt a little better today, makes me feel good.”
Mengden is the second A’s player to test positive for Covid-19. Jesús Luzardo tested positive in spring training and had to isolate for 14 days. It is assumed Mengden will do the same. Melvin spoke about what the break will do to the team, considering they are facing the two top five teams currently in baseball:
“Baseball is very rhythm oriented, so you know, we’ll see. We will see how it goes the first day, after a couple days you obviously get back into the swing of things but I’m, similar to an All-Star break, an extended period probably a little bit more.”
Chapman spoke to the media about missing so many games and the multiple late-season double-headers that will be required to make them up:
“Obviously this has just been a weird year in general but the 7 innings, you can get two games in and you know, it goes a little quicker so maybe its just a little bit safer but it also doesn’t take a toll on people playing both games.”
Chapman said he was happy they didn’t play due to the circumstances and believes the first games being postponed to create awareness were well worth it.
The Oakland A’s host the blazing San Diego Padres for a short three-game series. The A’s have not played at home since August 23 when they beat the Angels 5-4.
Chad Pinder returned from Charlotte, North Carolina after he and his wife Taylor had their firstborn baby Christopher James Pinder, 7.8 lbs arrived at 5:18 a.m. … Oakland acquired IF Tommy La Stella from the Los Angeles Angels. … A.J Put will have one more rehab outing at the alternate facility on Friday and will most return as a reliever. The A’s hope to activate him next week.