Yankees’ Gleyber Torres positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated and having previously contracted the coronavirus during the offseason.

Torres is among eight so-called breakthrough positives among the Yankees – people who tested positive despite being fully vaccinated.

“Certainly unexpected,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Torres. “Obviously everyone, Major League Baseball, that’s in charge of testing is looking into that. The variants that could be out there if that is the case.”

The Yankees said the team is undergoing additional testing and contact tracing, with the assistance of the baseball commissioner’s office and its medical experts. The New York State Department of Health is advising the team.

New York general manager Brian Cashman said MLB was in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday about the Yankees situation.

“With regard to the Yankees, we obviously need to learn more about that situation,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “My understanding is that six of the seven reports, six of the seven infections, were indeed asymptomatic infections. And we will look to more data from that report to understand what happened there. All of the real world data we’ve seen that’s been in the published literature, large studies, in many different settings, have demonstrated that those vaccines are effective, have a high effectiveness against disease.”

Also testing positive were pitching coach Matt Blake, third base coach Phil Nevin, first base coach Reggie Willits and four traveling staff.

“We are maybe a case study to some degree,” Cashman said.

Torres played in Tuesday night’s game at Tampa Bay and then was out of the lineup Wednesday night.

“When you read the fine print, they tell you that you still could get the COVID and the vaccination is to protect you from the symptoms, either to eliminate them all together and protect you if not fully protection then the percentages,” Cashman said. “But the one thing I take from this I believe the vaccine is working. We’ve got eight positives, seven of the eight presented as without symptoms.”

“Take great comfort, thankfully, that all were vaccination with the J&J provided from two different states,” Cashman added, referring to the Johnson & Johnson vaccination. “We believe it created the nice protection that we have to protect them from obviously something severe or something much more difficult to be handling than we currently are.”

Cashman said Nevin had symptoms that are no longer present.

“We’ve been rocked here the last several days,” Boone said. “I think it’s stopped all of us a little bit in our tracks. We’re dealing with a lot. Our heads are spinning trying to get our hands wrapped around everything.”

New York said all are under quarantine protocols in Tampa.

Boone said all eight continue to test positive. He added that there were no new cases Thursday and that all other players were available to play against the Rays.

“There is still concern,” Boone said. “I think the one positive right now is that today was the first day of no new cases. All saliva tests from yesterday that have come back in today were all negative. I hope that is good news and hopefully means we’re moving in the right direction.”

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said the Rays were comfortable with Thursday’s game being played.

Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow thought vaccinations played a key role in games not being postponed.

“I think if this was last year, it would be like a canceled game without any questions,” Glasnow said. “I think they have a good grip on what’s going on. From what I know no one from our team has tested positive or anything, so there’s definitely like separation from their side.”

The Yankees reached the 85% vaccination level on April 30, which allowed MLB protocols to be loosened. Among the changes, the requirement for masks in dugouts and bullpens was dropped.

“I think when we got to that threshold, frankly I probably relaxed a little bit,” Boone said. “I just think for us it just kind of made us be probably a little more cautious.”

Masking and social distancing are a focus with the Yankees.

“I think that guys are trying to be as cautious and respectful to everybody as they can,” Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber said. “It’s obviously changing at certain points in time, things like that. So just trying to be on our toes and be willing to adjust if necessary.”

The 24-year-old Torres was placed on the COVID-19 injured list before Thursday’s series finale at Tampa Bay. New York recalled infielder/outfielder Miguel Andujar from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Andujar started at third, and Gio Urshela moved from third to shortstop.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.