Ominous news emerged from the Yankees late on Monday afternoon, as reports emerged that five members of the coaching staff had tested positive for COVID-19. The Yankees later clarified the situation: Third-base coach Phil Nevin had indeed tested positive, but they were still waiting to hear about others. Nevin is feeling OK and quarantining. None of the players are affected.
Manager Aaron Boone told the media that the Yankees expected to play on Tuesday, and they were allowed to go forward since their high rate of vaccination minimized further risk. First-base coach Reggie Willits and pitching coach Matt Blake were held out for precautionary reasons, and baseball development coordinator Mario Garza coached first. Bench coach Carlos Mendoza took Nevin’s spot at third, and bullpen coach Mike Harkey pulled double duty as pitching coach. After the game ended, Boone confirmed two more positives — Willits and an unnamed support staff member (both were also vaccinated).
The earlier report may have been premature. Personnel are still undergoing testing, but remember: Five post-vaccine positive tests would be exceptionally odd, even with the team in close contact. It’s still remotely possible, as even with the vaccine, you’re not 100 percent cleared to never test positive for COVID — per the CDC, there’s always a chance; the vaccine simply increases your protection (flu vaccines work the same way). But five seems like a reach.
All coaches had been vaccinated when the Yankees got their J&J doses last month. The Yankees reached their 85-percent threshold to relax health and safety protocols back in April, and 23 of the 26 players have received their shots.
We’ll update this story as it develops. Please continue to get your vaccines whenever possible.
Gerrit Cole on the #Yankees positive case:— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) May 11, 2021
"I don't think this is going to be over for a few years. I think we're going to have to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. And every time these things come up, we're gonna have to adapt and learn as a species."