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Northwoods League: Positive test postpones Willmar Stingers’ road trip

An asymptomatic Rochester Honkers player may have COVID-19, meaning Willmar’s next game is Friday at home

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Willmar Stinger fans watch the season opener against the St. Cloud Rox on July 1, 2020 at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

A positive test for COVID-19 by a Rochester Honkers player means the Willmar Stingers won’t be playing two Northwoods Leagues games this week in Rochester.

The Rochester Honkers issued a press release Tuesday detailing the incident, noting that “the player is asymptomatic, feels healthy and is currently in isolation.”

Willmar (4-2) was scheduled for off days on Monday and Tuesday in the current configuration of the league, playing in the five-team Minnesota-Iowa Pod which also includes Mankato, St. Cloud and Waterloo, Iowa.

The Stingers were to play Wednesday and Thursday in Rochester. That won’t happen because of the positive test.

“Obviously, this is a hurdle,” said Stingers co-owner Ryan Voz. “To be able to pull this off, getting guys from all over the country to play, is difficult.

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“We’re excited about what we’ve done so far.”

Part of the plan when the Northwoods restructured after having its season moved back from its late May opening was to have an odd number of teams in case such a thing like the Honkers situation happened, Voz said.

Willmar had a player test positive before the season. The Minnesota native is at home and doing well, Voz said, with no symptoms. He’ll be out of quarantine next week.

Stingers player tests positive for COVID-19

The Honkers will be off for seven days and the player who tested positive goes into self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and in the best interests of Honkers fans, coaches and staff, the team has decided to suspend the season for seven days under recommendation from medical professionals in Rochester,” the Honkers’ release stated. “The organization will continue to monitor the situation with the intent to return to playing baseball when it is absolutely and undeniably safe to do so.

“July 14th is the team’s initial target date to restart play, but the situation remains fluid.”

Voz said the team talked to Waterloo Bucks officials about playing there instead, but the team wasn’t ready to host. Waterloo’s schedule was open.

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Rochester also was scheduled to play Mankato on Tuesday. That game also is postponed. It’s not certain if the Honkers’ games will be made up.

“This is a move that we feel is absolutely necessary to make,” Honkers general manager Jeremy Aagard said in a statement. “We remain committed to the safety of our fans and everyone involved with the Honkers in a season that has proven to be unlike any other.”

The league has taken numerous steps to ensure safety for participants and fans. Willmar has set up the stadium for social-distancing and is taking extra precautions for concessions, among many things.

“We’re just trying to be precautionary,” Voz said.

Willmar’s next game is 7:05 p.m. Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers are host to the St. Cloud Rox. It’s hat night. Fans receive a free hat.

The Stingers then host St. Cloud for a day-night doubleheader Saturday. Game 1 starts at 1:05 p.m. with a 7:05 p.m. scheduled start for Game 2. Willmar then plays at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at Waterloo.

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Willmar starting pitcher John Bezdicek fires to the plate during the Stingers' season opener against the St. Cloud Rox Wednesday evening at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

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Willmar starting pitcher John Bezdicek fires to the plate during the Stingers' season opener against the St. Cloud Rox Wednesday evening at Bill Taunton Stadium in Willmar. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

Related Topics: WILLMAR STINGERS
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