Yankees 3B coach Phil Nevin has positive COVID-19 test

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New York Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin is away from the team after a positive COVID-19 test.

New York announced the positive test for Nevin, who is fully vaccinated, about two hours before the scheduled first pitch at Tampa Bay.

Nevin is under quarantine protocol in nearby Tampa. Under Major League Baseball’s guidance and advice, and with its assistance, additional testing and contact tracing are ongoing.

“He’s doing OK,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Several other coaches were expected to miss the game due to contact tracing, but Boone said the contact tracing did not include any players.

“We have a few other staff, coaches that are still pending and we don’t have confirmation on,” Boone said before the game. “There’s a few people that we sent home just as a precaution to make sure. We’re doing all we can to stay healthy. A little bit of a skeleton staff but nothing we can’t handle.”

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza replaced Nevin as third base coach, and minor league coordinator Mario Garza filled in as first base coach for Reggie Willits.

Pitching coach Matt Blake was not visible in the bullpen area when starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery warmed up before the game.

The Yankees on April 30 were able to relax MLB protocols after reaching an 85% vaccination rate among players and staff such as managers, coaches and athletic trainers. The team spoke with MLB officials about the situation.

“We’ll have to definitely evaluate and make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to prevent things from happening,” Boone said.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who resumed wearing a mask during a pregame zoom session Tuesday, said the players were comfortable in playing the game.

“As a whole, we’re going to press on,” Cole said. “I don’t think this is going to be over for a few years. I think we’ve going to have to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. And every time these things come up, we’re going to have to adapt and learn, just as a species.”

Cole planned to wear a mask in the dugout during Tuesday night’s game.

“We’ve all learned that playing through a pandemic last year, nothing surprises you, but it catches you off guard a little bit,” Boone said. “Playing the 2020 season, going through spring training, playing this year and not having an issue, it still hits you, it still stops you in your tracks. Without question we’re certainly more equipped to deal with it.”

Notes: CF Aaron Hicks was a late scratch with a bruised right shin. He fouled a ball off it in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game against Washington. … Aaron Judge started in right field after being rested Sunday and hit a first-pitch homer in the first inning. He has been dealing with Boone is calling “lower leg stuff.” … 3B Gio Urshela (sore left knee) was back in the lineup for the first time since leaving Thursday’s game against Houston.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.