The Mets received good news as they remained in a coronavirus-induced holding pattern Saturday night, announcing that the Thursday night and Friday morning rounds of testing yielded no new positives, but they do not know yet when they will next play a game.
So far, they don’t have any additional cases of COVID-19 aside from the two they learned of Thursday afternoon when they were in Miami. The clean slate of negative tests included the traveling party, which flew back to New York on Thursday, as well as the Miami-marooned close contacts of the pair of positives.
“The entire Mets traveling party will continue to be tested daily and remain in self-isolation,” the club said in a statement. “We will await further scheduling information from MLB and continue to provide updates when available.”
Earlier Saturday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone offered an additional sliver of information: He said he is not counting on Monday, a mutual day off for the Mets and Yankees, being used to make up any games postponed this weekend.
That would mean the Mets won’t play until at least Tuesday, six days after their most recent game. And from a baseball perspective, the timing is particularly unfortunate in this pandemic-shortened, pandemic-threatened season. The Mets had been playing their best baseball of the year, winning three consecutive games for the first time to improve their record to 12-14.
The Mets scored 24 runs in those games, tied for their most in any three-game stretch this season. Dominic Smith, Luis Guillorme, Robinson Cano, Tomas Nido, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo — in no particular order — were among those who were swinging the bats well before the team got shut down.
This hiatus also turns the pitching schedule into a crapshoot. Seth Lugo was supposed to make his rotation re-debut Thursday in Miami, followed by Rick Porcello (5.76 ERA), Robert Gsellman (still stretching out from being a reliever) and probably Corey Oswalt (7.56 ERA) against the Yankees.
If there is any benefit to having those probable pitchers skip a Yankees game this weekend, it might be erased by looming doubleheaders. The Mets have at least four games to make up and are looking at as many as five games against the Yankees next weekend.
If the Mets return Tuesday, they can go straight to Jacob deGrom, who would be starting his second game in a row.
The down time might benefit injured Mets. Jeff McNeil (knee bone bruise) was slated to be out of Thursday’s lineup for a second game in a row before the game was called. Andres Gimenez recently fouled a ball off his ankle and also was on the bench.
Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) and David Peterson (left shoulder inflammation) also get time to recoup without missing additional contests. Their time lines to return are unclear.
What sort of performance can be expected when the Mets do play again? A layoff doesn’t necessarily mean rust. Here is what the other teams shut down by positive COVID-19 tests did upon their return (records before play Saturday):
Marlins: eight days off, won their first five games back, 8-8 since returning.
Cardinals: 15 days off, swept a doubleheader on their first day back, 5-5 since returning.
Reds: four days off, 2-2 since returning.
The Yankees, meanwhile, held a workout at Yankee Stadium on Saturday and will do so again Sunday.
This is the second time another team’s coronavirus cases interfered with the Yankees’ schedule. The other instance occurred when they were supposed to play the Phillies, who were shut down after a series with the Marlins, who had an outbreak that reached more than half of the active roster.
“I mean, it’s the world we’re living in, and we understand that,” Boone said. “It certainly is a little frustrating, especially when we haven’t necessarily been infected with it. But that’s the nature of this. And I think we knew what we signed up for and, unfortunately, it’s happened to us now a couple times and doesn’t make it ideal, but we also understand that we have to deal with it, we have to be able to roll with the punches here in 2020. And that’s what we’ll do.
“In the meantime, just hope everything turns out OK for the Mets and whatever the situation, player, staff member, whatever it is. Hopefully, it is another case of something not being a serious illness.”
With Erik Boland
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