Red Sox-Yanks to play Friday; Judge among positive tests
The Red Sox and Yankees will play Friday night after a game scheduled for Thursday was postponed due to an outbreak in New York's clubhouse that will sideline six players, including All-Star slugger Aaron Judge.
Judge, third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Kyle Higashioka were added to the COVID-19 injured list Friday, joining pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta. Loaisiga went on the IL Saturday when New York was in Houston, and Cortes and Peralta were added Thursday.
Additionally, first baseman Luke Voit was added to the injured list Friday with a bone bruise in his left knee.
New York promoted four players from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday: first baseman Chris Gittens, infielder Hoy Park, outfielder Greg Allen and catcher Rob Brantly. Outfielder Trey Amburgey was called up Thursday, when left-hander Zack Britton was also activated from the 10-day injured list.
“We’re really excited to go take the field tonight and have an opportunity to go up against the first-place team in our division,” manager Aaron Boone said. “And we expect to go play well.”
At least one of Judge, Urshela and Higashioka was not vaccinated, the Yankees said. Boone said he expects each of the COVID-positive players to be out at least 10 days from the time of their positive test. Some of the players are experiencing mild symptoms, but Boone said none has gotten seriously ill.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole compared the news to being struck by “an invisible, microscopic truck."
Players had another round of rapid testing Friday that revealed no other positives.
New York, fourth in the AL East at a disappointing 46-43, was among the first MLB teams to reach the 85% vaccination threshold that triggers a lessening of coronavirus protocols such as dropping mask use in dugouts and bullpens.
Despite all those vaccinations, the Yankees had more than a half-dozen positive COVID tests in May involving staff, including pitching coach Matt Blake, third base coach Phil Nevin and first base coach Reggie Willits. Nevin, despite being vaccinated, became seriously ill with a kidney infection that kept him away from the team for more than three weeks.
Judge started for the AL team in this week's All-Star game, sparking concern about a potential spread at the midsummer classic. MLB was conducting contact tracing under its protocols, and no other postponements were announced around the league, with every team set to play Friday night before rain in Detroit washed out a Twins-Tigers doubleheader.
Judge and Urshela have been among the few consistent performers in New York's lineup this year. Judge is hitting .282 with 21 homers and a .901 OPS, and the slick-fielding Urshela is batting .275 with 11 homers and a .756 OPS.
“That's our reality right now,” Boone said. “We have to go make the best of it.”
Voit experienced swelling in his knee over the weekend and had it drained, but Boone said he had lingering pain this week. The 2020 AL home run leader is likely to get a platelet-rich plasma injection Friday night, and there's no timeline for his return. Voit had surgery on the same knee in March to repair a partially torn meniscus.
“I don't think they're overly concerned that it's a recurring or structural thing,” Boone said of conversations with the medical staff.
Neither Park nor Amburgey have played in the majors before, and the latter was set to bat eighth and play right field Friday. Both were having breakout seasons with the RailRiders. Park was hitting .325 with eight homers and Amburgey was batting .312 with seven homers.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team and for a lot of people that are getting opportunities in some cases for the first time at the big league level, and for the first time in this organization,” Boone said.
Brantly and Park had to be added to the 40-man roster. New York did not have to open any spots as part of rules governing the COVID-19 injured list.
Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery was slated to start Friday night against lefty Eduardo Rodriguez.
Thursday's game was the eighth coronavirus-related postponement this season but the first in nearly three months. Also put off were a three-game series that had the New York Mets at Washington from April 1-4, Atlanta’s game at the Nationals on April 5, two Minnesota at Los Angeles Angels games on April 17-18 and a Twins at Oakland game on April 19.
There were 45 regular-season games postponed for virus-related reasons during last year’s pandemic-shortened season but just two were not made up, between St. Louis and Detroit.
New York announced that Thursday's postponement will be made up as part of a split-admission doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 17.