Yankees COVID-19 outbreak continues as Anthony Rizzo tests positive

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Newcomer Anthony Rizzo has become the latest Yankees player to test positive for the coronavirus.

Rizzo is the fourth New York player within the past week to be sidelined by COVID-19, joining starting pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery and catcher Gary Sanchez.

Rizzo tested positive after Saturday’s game, manager Aaron Boone said. Rizzo went 0 for 4 in the Yankees’ 5-4 victory over Seattle.

Rizzo is off to a quick start since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 29. The first baseman is hitting .281 with three homers and six RBIs in nine games for New York.

“I just spoke with him, he’s doing all right,” Boone said before Sunday’s series finale against Seattle. “He’s got symptoms but he’s doing OK. Obviously a little bummed out but hopefully a chance to get rested up and well and be back hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Cole tested positive on Monday, Montgomery tested positive Tuesday and Sanchez was placed on the COVID-19 list on Thursday. Boone said Cole, Montgomery and Sanchez are feeling better.

The outbreak occurred after the Yankees returned from playing six games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins in Florida, where COVID-19 cases are surging. Rizzo made his debut with the Yankees on July 30 at Miami.

“I think a lot came out of Florida where we were in this wave of them,” Boone said. “It’s a little of you don’t know when and where it’s spreading.”

At least 85% of New York’s players are vaccinated, resulting in a loosening of restrictions, but the Yankees still have been hit hard and Boone said the team will hold conversations about being cautious on its upcoming six-game road trip.

Rizzo, a cancer survivor, said in June he was not vaccinated and Boone did not want to speculate on any player’s vaccination status.

“A large percentage of us obviously are, but I’m not going to get into that anymore,” Boone said.

To replace Rizzo on the roster, Luke Voit returned from his third stint on the injured list. Voit has been limited to 29 games because of knee and oblique injuries and is batting .241 with three homers and 11 RBIs. He led the majors with 22 homers in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“He feels great,” Boone said. “As you know, he’s felt great for about a week now and has been able to get some at-bats. So, he’s ready to go and I think excited to be here.”

Since the All-Star break, star outfielder Aaron Judge, third baseman Gio Urshela and catcher Kyle Higashioka have tested positive along with relievers Wandy Peralta and Jonathan Loaisiga.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.