Gerrit Cole equated it to being hit by "an invisible, microscopic truck," one with plenty of horsepower. And though the Yankees are trying their best to conduct business as usual, the truth is that COVID-19 has ripped a giant hole in their roster — one that likely will stick around for 10 days or even more as they attempt to stay afloat against two big divisional rivals.
Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka all have confirmed cases of the virus, the Yankees announced Friday, when they joined Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr. and Wandy Peralta on the COVID-19 list.
Aaron Boone said not all of the players were asymptomatic, though no one has had a severe reaction thus far. Not all of the players who contracted the virus had been vaccinated, he said.
Boone added that he doesn't foresee any of the six being able to return before at least the 10-day mark, because they would need multiple negative tests in subsequent days, and negative tests aren’t likely so soon after contracting the virus.
Luke Voit also was put on the injured list with a bone bruise in his left knee.
That means the Yankees will have to try to survive seven games against the AL East-leading Red Sox and at least one game against the second-place Rays — a stretch that, if it goes poorly, could doom their season. They’ll also face the Phillies for two games in that 10-day stretch.
Boone does not believe more positive tests will come out of this outbreak, but further tests will be conducted — including the more thorough PCR tests.
In corresponding moves, the Yankees signed catcher Rob Brantly and infielder Hoy Park to major-league contracts, called up outfielder Greg Allen and recalled first baseman Chris Gittens from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"That’s our reality right now and we’ve got to go make the best of it," Boone said. Urshela and Judge "are two obviously great players, obviously important players to what we do, but we’ve gotta go make do with what we have. The reality is that we have a lot of good players in that room, a lot of good players that are in the midst of really good seasons that came up to be contributors today, and everyone is going to have to contribute and pick up the slack for important players on our team, impact players on our team that are going to be down for a bit. I’m not going to sit and stew on it."
The moves made for a slightly RailRider-skewed lineup. Trey Amburgey, who was called up before the Red Sox series, played rightfield in lieu of Judge and Gittens started at first base in place of Voit.
Despite the chaotic few days, Cole said Friday was business as usual — albeit with a few more welcoming handshakes (or preferably fist bumps) and locker assignments.
Cole, who had plenty of experience with undermanned teams when he was with the Pirates, took a philosophical approach to it all. He recalled that early in the season, people kept talking about how the underperforming Yankees "looked good on paper."
"Paper is paper, the game is the game," he said. "Anything is possible once it’s 7:05 and the game starts . . . Whether you have super-talented players or not, at some point, you’re going to have to persevere through what the game is throwing at you. You’re going to have to execute good pitches and put good swings. Far and away, we have enough help to do those things."
Boone added that the newcomers' excitement is palpable — and hopefully infectious (in a good way).
"Obviously, we know we’re dealing with some adversity and a tough situation, but we’re trying to embrace it the best we can," he said. "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."
Notes & quotes: The previously postponed Thursday game between the Yankees and Red Sox will be played as part of a split-admission doubleheader on Tuesday, Aug. 17. The first game will be at 1:05 p.m. and the second at 7:05. Fans who had tickets to Thursday's game will be admitted into Game 1.