MLB

Yankees COVID-19 outbreak: Aaron Judge among six Yanks to test positive; Red Sox game Friday on track

The New York Yankees were scheduled to kick off the second half of Major League Baseball’s regular season on Thursday night by hosting the Boston Red Sox. Instead, MLB has postponed the game because of the Yankees’ latest round of COVID-19 issues. Here’s the league’s official statement:

Following positive COVID-19 tests within the New York Yankees organization, tonight’s game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium has been postponed to allow for continued testing and contact tracing. Major League Baseball will continue to provide scheduling updates as available.

MLB has not yet deemed it necessary to postpone Friday’s game, though that could change as more information becomes available. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Enrique Rojas, the Yankees and Red Sox are expected to play Friday’s 7:05 p.m. ET game at Yankee Stadium. As of Friday morning, there have been no new positive cases. but there is still another round of COVID-19 testing scheduled for this afternoon.

General manager Brian Cashman told reporters on Thursday afternoon that the Yankees have three positive cases and three that are pending. Cashman’s figure for positives includes reliever Jonathan Loaisiga who was placed on the COVID-19 list before the All-Star break, as well as fellow pitchers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta, each placed on the COVID-19 list ahead of Thursday’s contest. Cashman told reporters all three were vaccinated. (The Yankees also reinstated reliever Zack Britton from the 10-day injured list. Britton had been out since late June after suffering a strained hamstring.)

The three pending cases involve Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka and Gio Urshela, according to ESPN’s Buster OlneyESPN’s Marly Rivera reports Red Sox player Rafael Devers was asked not to conduct interviews because one of the Yankees who tested positive was at the All-Star Game, which would be Judge. Later, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Judge was among six Yankees players to have tested positive. 

All five Red Sox All-Stars (Devers, Matt Barnes, Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi, JD Martinez) were told to take social distancing precautions, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. “I was a little worried, and obviously I’m worried now,” Cora said of his team’s five All-Stars (via sny.tv). “Some of them are vaccinated and some of them are not.”

Cashman told reporters  “most” of the six players were previously vaccinated. Urshela was vaccinated earlier this season (he spent one day on the COVID list with vaccine side effects in May).  The Yankees were reportedly one of the first teams to clear the vaccine threshold (85 percent of tier-1 individuals) that allows for looser adherence to MLB’s protocols. This is their second instance of positive tests since, with several coaches having to miss time in May following so-called “breakthrough infections.” As experts have since explained, the purpose of a vaccination is to reduce the severity of the infection rather than eliminate the possibility altogether; from that perspective, the COVID-19 vaccines worked as intended, with nearly all of those cases being asymptomatic in nature.

The Yankees had initially been forced to scrap batting practice as they adhered to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol following a pair of positive tests.

Thursday was supposed to mark the beginning of a pivotal stretch for the Yankees, who entered the second half stationed in fourth place in the American League East, some eight games behind the Red Sox. The Yankees are slated to play the Red Sox and the second-place Tampa Bay Rays a combined 11 times ahead of MLB’s July 30 trade deadline. The results of those contests — and keep in mind, the Yankees are 5-14 against those teams so far this season — will likely dictate whether New York is aggressive at the deadline.



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