Yankees play it safe with Gleyber Torres as COVID-19 cases grow
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees’ COVID outbreak has reached seven people — and potentially more — though as of Wednesday evening, no players had tested positive.
Gleyber Torres was held out of the lineup “out of an abundance of caution” while the team waited on testing.
Pitching coach Matt Blake, who missed Tuesday’s win over the Rays at Tropicana Field, was the third coach to test positive, along with third base coach Phil Nevin and first base coach Reggie Willits.
Of the seven positives, Aaron Boone said only one was symptomatic, and a source confirmed that was Nevin.
Since the Yankees had reached the 85 percent threshold set by Major League Baseball to relax some protocols, it’s a fairly stunning number, though Boone noted the vaccinations have so far reduced the symptoms in those who have come down with the virus.
A source also said since those who have tested positive didn’t have close contact with any players, there was no thought of canceling the games Tuesday or Wednesday.
Jameson Taillon, scheduled to start Thursday against Tampa Bay, acknowledged the seven positive tests were “a high number.”
“I’ve got to be honest, I thought we were out of the woods,’’ Taillon said before Wednesday’s game. “But here we are.”
The Yankees began to get news of potential positive tests Sunday and the situation grew worse Monday.
The players met prior to Tuesday’s game and decided to play, unanimously, according to Taillon.
No similar discussion took place before Wednesday’s game.
Taillon said it’s resulted in a “kind of hectic” situation.
“It seems like it’s evolving,’’ the right-hander said. “But we managed to go out and win a game [Tuesday] night. Since we’re above the 85 percent threshold of vaccinations, it eased everyone’s mind a little bit. But we’ve been dealing with this thing for over a year. … We’re willing to roll with the punches. We’re ready to play.”
But they’ve also gone back to wearing masks and taking other precautions. Taillon, for instance, warmed up in left field by himself Wednesday and didn’t go to the weight room at Tropicana Field.
He added, though, that the team is “not too panicked about it.”
The coaching staff remained the same as it was on Tuesday — with bench coach Carlos Mendoza filling in for Nevin at third base; Mario Garza, the team’s coordinator of baseball development, serving as the first base coach in place of Willits; and bullpen coach Mike Harkey adding pitching coach to his duties.
Taillon also noted Sam Briend, the Yankees’ director of pitching, was also on hand.
The Yankees were helped by the fact their minor league operations are based in Tampa.
But in addition to dealing with the logistics of how to play, Boone said the team is also trying to figure out how such a high number of personnel tested positive. Most, if not all, of the team received the one dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
And since positive tests began showing up Monday, all members of the traveling party have been tested at least three times.
“In an ideal world, we’d be past it,’’ Taillon said. “We’ll mask back up, do whatever we’ve got to do to get this season in. … For a while, we were getting pretty comfortable, like the rules called for. Now we’ll tighten it back up.”
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