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The Boston Red Sox confirmed on Saturday that at least two players have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Lefties Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Herandnez have both tested positive and are currently quarantining away from the team.
Taylor is being quarantined at a nearby hotel while Hernandez is still at his home.
They’ll need to test negative twice before they can join the club at Fenway Park for summer camp, putting their availability for Opening Day on July 23 or 24 in question.
“Anytime anybody is positive now, it impacts what happens at the start of the season just because of the short training camp we have,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’ll see how it goes. Some guys are in their rooms and will throw balls up against a mattress or try to do anything to keep their arm activated. So we’ll see what we can do.”
The positive tests add further doubt to the viability of a 2020 season, particularly against the backdrop of more cases being reported across MLB on Saturday, and more players, including David Price, choosing to opt out of the season.
The Red Sox are already thin in pitching as they wait for Eduardo Rodriguez to test negative twice before he joins the club. He was exposed to someone who tested positive in his hometown and has yet to travel to Boston.
“We still don’t have the test results back from him,” Roenicke said.
Losing Taylor and Hernandez at the start of the season would be a major blow to the Red Sox, who relied on them for multi-inning stints in key spots last season.
McHugh looks good
One possible reinforcement is righty Collin McHugh, who threw a bullpen session on Saturday as he continues to recover from offseason elbow surgery and hopes to be ready to pitch this season.
“He let it go like every few pitches, he would let it go,” Roenicke said. “But didn’t’ every pitch. He looked good. I thought the ball was coming out nice and clean, I thought the effort level was good. He’s pretty smooth.”
Verdugo happy to be here
In the last two days, Price opted out of the season, Mike Trout told reporters in Anaheim he still doesn’t feel comfortable at the park and Buster Posey told reporters in San Francisco he may not stay at camp and is still considering opting out of the season.
The uncertainty around the league hasn’t hit Red Sox sophomore Alex Verdugo, who is just happy to be at Fenway Park.
“It’s amazing up close in person,” said Verdugo, acquired from the Dodgers in February. “It never changes. You just get a special feeling inside. I told the manager I wanted to see some velo. The first time I’ve seen any pitching in 10 months or something like that. It so happened Nathan (Eovaldi) was on the bump. Let’s say I got welcomed real quick to good old 99 mph.”
Verdugo, who had offseason back surgery, said the time off was a blessing in disguise for his body to recover.
“I took a full swing, swung and missed and had no pain or discomfort,” he said. “That was reassuring. That’s what this is about, to get my timing back, to reassure that my body, physically, is handling progression really well.”
While Verdugo hits left-handed and Roenicke has mentioned platooning some of his lefty-hitting outfielders with the right-handed Kevin Pillar, Verdugo said he wants to play every day and pointed to his .327 average vs. lefties last year.
“I’m an everyday player,” he said. “That’s just that. It’s that simple. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. I want to be out there every day competing, no matter if it’s a righty or lefty on the mound. I feel like my splits are reversed. I hit lefties better than I hit righties. I want to be a starter, that’s what everybody comes in the big leagues for, what everybody wants to be. But they can do whatever they want to do and I’ll follow. I’ll play as hard as I can.”
Story by Jason Mastrodonato, Boston Herald.