St. Louis Cardinals: Team expects to be vaccinated prior to Opening Day

The St. Louis Cardinals may be getting their COVID-19 vaccinations as early as Monday night, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak told reporters, including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The team will get the Johnson & Johnson vaccines in Cincinnati. They are prioritizing the traveling party, Mozeliak said, and want to get the shot today so they have multiple days to recover from any potential side effects before Opening Day.

The traveling party, specifically, will include members of the 26-man roster, the taxi squad, the coaching staff and support personnel, which includes select members of the front office. No one will be forced to receive the vaccine, with pitcher Adam Wainwright telling reporters earlier this spring that he would get the shot if it meant he could have a “big-league dinner” with his teammates again.

“I’m hopeful people will do it,” Mozeliak said. “The more vaccines that go into the arm, the more freedom and normalcy we can (experience).”

Just last season, the Cardinals were among the teams most impacted by the coronavirus. They had many players and staff members test positive last season, halting their season in Milwaukee on July 29 and were out more than two weeks. It forced the team to play 53 games between Aug. 15 and Sept. 27 — a span of 44 days.

After the season, some players admitted they did not feel 100 percent upon returning, and their numbers reflected it. Lane Thomas struggled after a nice season the year before. Dylan Carlson, the Cardinals’ top outfield prospect, was thrust into action when his first stint in the majors underscored that he was not ready.

It was, quite simply, a mess. And now that the vaccine will be given to players who want it, the Cardinals are hopeful that they will not have a repeat of last year, and can eventually return to some sense of normalcy during the regular season.