Kyodo News reports that two Yomiuri Giants players have tested positive for COVID-19. The players, shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and catcher Takumi Oshiro, are the first baseball players in Japan to test positive since NPB began its ramp-up to a scheduled June 19 opening day.
In response, the Giants canceled an exhibition game against the Seibu Lions scheduled for today and have announced that every player, coach and member of team staff will undergo additional testing.
The positive tests — and the results of the additional tests — present the first challenge to NPB’s COVID-19 protocols which were put in place in the efforts of the league playing a shortened 120-game season. They will likely also prove instructive to Major League Baseball as it works with the MLBPA on a plan for baseball to return in the United States.
Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.
The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”
Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.
Now, however, Kopech has opted out.