The first Major League Baseball game following the All-Star Break, between the host New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, was postponed Thursday due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests among New York’s pitching staff.
The Yankees announced left-handed relievers Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta tested positive and were placed on the COVID-19 injured list. They joined right-handed reliever Jonathan Loaisiga, who tested positive last weekend in Houston and remains in quarantine.
ESPN also reported that Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka and Gio Urshela are in COVID protocol.
“We’ll just tackle it as best as we can as far as, first and foremost, obviously anyone that’s tested positive, making sure (and) help them be as healthy as they can be,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Cortes, Peralta and Loaisiga were all vaccinated, general manager Brian Cashman added.
Cashman said the Yankees were also awaiting lab results on three positive tests among players — most likely Judge, Higashioka and Urshela — that appeared during rapid testing.
The historic American League East foes were set to play a nationally televised game on ESPN at 7 p.m. Thursday at Yankee Stadium before the other 28 major league teams resumed action Friday.
The game was postponed about two hours before the scheduled first pitch. About three hours before first pitch, the Yankees canceled batting practice.
No makeup date was announced, with MLB saying it will provide scheduling updates as available, and it remained unclear if Friday’s scheduled game would proceed.
The Yankees are among the 23 teams to reach the 85 percent vaccination rate needed for loosening of restrictions. Cashman said most of his players, but not every player, had been vaccinated.
“We’re in a very fluid situation right now,” Cashman said. “The vaccines that we encourage everybody to get guarantee not getting hospitalized and getting death coming from COVID, which is important, but it doesn’t prevent you from contracting COVID. It protects you from the severe, worst-case scenario effects from COVID.”
The Yankees reached the 85 percent threshold early this season but still had nine positive tests in mid-May. Among them were third base coach Phil Nevin, who lost 22 pounds during a serious case of COVID-19.
Last season, the Yankees had games canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. It resulted in five of the six games in the “Subway Series” being played at Yankee Stadium.
“I guess the last year, year and a half in some ways has prepared you for this kind of stuff,” Boone said. “Certainly disappointing and frustrating and don’t want to be sitting here talking about this and desperately want us to go back to normal as possible but that’s out of control too and we just got to do the best with the circumstances.”
Before the 60-game season started on July 23, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Chapman and pitcher Luis Cessa tested positive for COVID-19. During the offseason, left-handed reliever Zack Britton, third baseman Gio Urshela and shortstop Gleyber Torres contracted COVID-19.
Torres also missed about a week in May due to a false positive test when the Yankees were in Tampa.
Last season, 45 regular-season games were postponed due to COVID-19 issues. Thursday marked the eighth postponement related to COVID-19.
On April 1-4, the Mets had their season-opening series at the Washington Nationals postponed. The Atlanta Braves also had a game postponed at Washington on April 5 and the Minnesota Twins saw two games against the Los Angeles Angels and one against the Oakland Athletics postponed due to virus-related issues.
The Yankees entered Thursday at 46-43 and eight games behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East. Boston is 6-0 against the Yankees this season, with 12 games left in their season series saved for the second half of the schedule.
–Field Level Media
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