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Yanks-Sox Postponed; 6 Players in COVID-Protocol

Despite reaching the 85% vaccinated threshold seemingly forever ago, the Yankees are once again dealing with a mass COVID scare in 2021. The league postponed tonight’s game against the Red Sox as a result. We don’t know when they’ll play the game, nor do we know the status of the rest of the weekend’s slate. Fun! It would make sense to assume a double-header would come in the near future, but we can’t be so sure, unfortunately. It’s a complicated situation! Let’s break it down.

First, the outbreak itself. Six Yankees are currently in COVID protocol, per Brian Cashman. That includes three players who have tested positive and three cases that are pending. All of them are players. Here’s the breakdown, given what we know right now:

  • Confirmed Positives: Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr., Wandy Peralta
  • Cases Pending: Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka, and Gio Urshela

The good news is that all of the players are asymptomatic, which is the most important issue. Most of the players are vaccinated, according to Brian Cashman. (That includes all three positive cases.) Some players got the J&J shot; others an mRNA. Loaisiga, who tested positive a week or so ago, is quarantining in Houston. There are obviously roster implications here. We won’t know them until we really know who is positive and who isn’t. We’ll have more on that once we, well, know more about that.

The bad news is, well, basically everything else. Judge was obviously at the All-Star game this week, which means that the rest of the league now needs to be on notice. This significantly complicates the contact tracing due to the nature of the ASG. Remember, every team is represented at the game. This could become a hairy situation very quickly, particularly for AL clubs.

In fact, it already is for Boston. The team sent five players to Denver, not all of whom are vaccinated. Obviously, that means that this could easily spread to their clubhouse – which has not yet met the 85% vaccinated threshold, either. It’s not clear what the next steps are, or when the Yankees will play again. We’ll see, I guess.

This definitely makes MLB look bad, though. There was not a mask in sight – which I didn’t notice, honestly, but it looks bad in hindsight. It was naive of me, but I sort of just expected that everyone was vaccinated! That was dumb of me. Now, MLB might have an outbreak on its hands. It’s unbelievable.

Anyway, here is some additional information on the Yankees:

There will be more to come from all of this, of course. We’ll keep you posted on scheduling, test results, and the roster implications as we learn more. Sigh. The nightmare season continues, eh?

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Injury updates: Corey Kluber shut down for four weeks; Luke Voit has oblique strain

I guess we’ll have to keep using this, huh?

Another day, another injury. We already were waiting for the news on Corey Kluber’s MRI — it’s not good — but now, we’ve also come to find that Luke Voit has a grade 2 oblique strain. I had initially speculated that he was out of the lineup prior to postponement for paternity leave as his wife was scheduled for induced labor by Friday, but nope. Voit will return to the injured list after missing a good chunk of time already because of knee surgery.

I guess we will see more Mike Ford and perhaps Miguel Andújar at first. Or, more DJ LeMahieu at first base and Rougned Odor at second base. But what about Chris Gittens? Can’t envision a better chance for him. There’s no timetable for Voit yet, but figure it’s gonna be a while.

Meanwhile, Kluber has a subscap strain in his throwing shoulder. The righty didn’t sound too concerned about the tightness he felt in last night’s start, but now, he’ll be shut down for four weeks. That means he’ll also need another four weeks of build up, per Aaron Boone. Probably won’t be seeing Kluber until August at the earliest, and it absolutely sucks. He was pitching really well with the no-hitter being the high point. I know folks will point to the no-no being the root cause of the strain, but I doubt it. He only needed 101 pitches to throw those nine innings. He’s a late 30s pitcher with shoulder trouble already last year. It was the risk the Yankees decided to take, and it had looked like it was going to pay off in a major way until now.

So, expect to see Deivi García and Michael King duke it out for Kluber’s vacancy. Then, once Luis Severino returns (hopefully around the All Star break?), Sevy will jump in.

Is everyone having fun yet?

Gleyber Torres exits game due to tight hamstring

How does this keep happening?

Gleyber Torres was in obvious pain as he grounded out in the third inning. Thairo Estrada subbed in for him on defense. Once we have more information we’ll share.

With DJ LeMahieu already out, the Yankees’ middle infield depth is going to be seriously tested if this is serious. They did just sign Jordy Mercer to a minor league deal earlier this week, so he could be up. Matt Duffy is in camp as well.

Guess the injury bug from last year never went away.

Update, 3:15 p.m. EDT:

Tonight’s Yankees-Phillies Game is Postponed (Again)

For the second time in two days, Major League Baseball has postponed a Yankees-Phillies game. This decision follows a report that four additional Marlins tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases to 17. Regardless of what Commissioner Rob Manfred says, this is both a nightmare scenario and an inflection point for the entire 2020 MLB season.

The Marlins outbreak raises questions about how seriously teams are treating the safety protocols internally. I suspect we will find out very soon that the Marlins did not take them very seriously at all. While individual responsibility is at play here, the league clearly needs to be doing more on this front. It should implement an independent third-party in each clubhouse to monitor and enforce them. If this is going to work – and, at this point, I have serious, serious doubts that it can – then that is the bare minimum.

There is some good news, though: no Phillies have yet tested positive. Philadelphia obviously played the Marlins – hence the postponed games – so this is reassuring. Team-to-team spread would almost certainly be the final blow to the season. Personally, I’d like to see a few more rounds of no positives before celebrating, but it is good news nonetheless. It also seems like testing yielded promising results regarding every other team. That, too, is good news.

Anyway, the Yankees and Phillies are both heading to the Bronx today in advance of tomorrow’s scheduled game. The Yankees will practice tonight at Yankee Stadium. For now, at least, things continue to move forward. We’ll have to see how long that lasts.

Update (1:32pm): Two additional relevant items have since come to light. First, the Phillies are not actually going to New York. They were planning to get saliva tests at the park today, then were going to get on a bus to the Big Apple.

However, that may not end up happening at all. Ken Rosenthal reported just now that the the league is discussing placing the Marlins and Phillies under quarantine for a to-be-determined length of time. The Yankees and Orioles (who were set to play Miami) will then play a two-game series on Wednesday and Thursday in Baltimore. As it happens, the Yankees are still in Philadelphia. They are in a “holding pattern.”

Honestly, I think this plan makes sense. Because of the regional scheduling, the only impacted teams (so far) are both in the AL and NL East. If the league decides to quarantine the Marlins and Phillies, then that opens up a new door. Their scheduled opponents could then play each other instead, like they’re doing with the Yanks and O’s. Will it work? Who knows!

What I do know is that some flexibility is needed if we’re going to move forward with this season. That might even include teams playing an unequal number of games and the best winning percentage ruling the day for playoff purposes. That decision comes next, though. What we’re hearing about now is step one.

One last note: none of the Yankees, Phillies, or MLB have officially announced that this game tonight is even postponed. Maybe the Yanks are on their way to Baltimore as we speak for a game tonight. I doubt it! But nothing will surprise me anymore. More to come, I’m sure.

Update (2:33 pm): It’s official. Yankees will play a two-game set in Baltimore beginning tomorrow. As I said, this makes sense. Miami will be off until Monday and Philadelphia is off until Friday.

Tonight’s Yankees-Phillies Game is Postponed

Major League Baseball postponed tonight’s Yankee-Phillies game in the wake of a major COVID-19 outbreak with the Miami Marlins. Postponed, not cancelled, is the key word here: the season has not yet been cancelled. Still, it’s looking more and more likely by the minute.

Miami has at least 14 positive cases in the last few days alone. The Marlins were in Philadelphia this weekend and played 3 games against the Phillies. They played yesterday despite knowing several players tested positive over the weekend, which is borderline unconscionable. That’s the cause of the postponed game, as the Yankees and Phillies had a game tonight in that very same ballpark. We now wait to see if more players in Miami and Philadelphia have contracted the virus.

For their part, the Yanks tried to mitigate their risk by bringing in their own clubhouse staff while Philly’s staff was quarantined. The Yanks are also staying in a different hotel than Miami. Those were obviously half measures, though each move makes sense in a vacuum. I wouldn’t have felt especially comfortable playing in a game tonight, nor would I have felt comfortable covering one in this environment. Postponing is the right move and also the least the league can do right now.

I think we were all extremely skeptical – even if hopeful! – that the league would be able to pull this thing off. It is looking less and less likely that this is the case now. It took all of 4 days for the new season to reach a major crisis point. Given what we know right now, I wouldn’t expect this season to make the week. It probably shouldn’t, either.

UPDATE (11:21 am): It’s official. Here’s the league’s statement:

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