Add Gary Sanchez to the Yankees’ most recent breakout of COVID-19 cases.
Aaron Boone disclosed before Thursday night’s game that Sanchez, who like the vast majority of his teammates has been vaccinated, had tested positive. The catcher joined Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, who were announced earlier in the week as having tested positive, on the COVID-19 IL.
"He didn't feel well leaving last night, and then woke up today not feeling great," Boone said before Thursday night’s game against the Mariners. "So he's positive on the rapid test, he'll now have the PCR test that we’ll find out the official (diagnosis) later tonight."
Kyle Higashioka, who recently returned from the COVID IL, was elevated to starting catcher and Rob Brantly was promoted to take over the backup duties.
This marks the third COVID outbreak this season for the Yankees, who had blown past the 85% vaccination threshold, which allows teams to relax some of the league-mandated COVID-19 protocols, by late April.
Nine members of their traveling party, including one player (Gleyber Torres), tested positive in May and the second outbreak came out of the All-Star Break when six players went to the COVID-19 IL.
"Again, it's adversity. It's a different kind of adversity, obviously, than we've had to deal with," Boone said. "But it's something we've got to deal with, nonetheless. The guys have done an excellent job … whether it's created opportunities for other people to step in and step up, and that'll continue to be the expectation."
The Yankees, who had few COVID issues last season – Aroldis Chapman tested positive before Spring Training II commenced July 4, 2020 but had no positives in-season – continue to search for answers.
"We're in Florida this past week, and that's been one of the places of some rising cases and things like that, so I'm sure that could have played a role," Boone said. "But it's hard to know who contracted what, where, when, and how. Again, (we’re) just trying to navigate it the best we can."
Voit in limbo
With the addition of Anthony Rizzo, there isn’t currently a spot for Luke Voit, whom the Yankees were unsuccessful in trying to deal before the trade deadline. Voit (left knee inflammation) at the moment is rehabbing with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (he homered Tuesday in his first rehab game).
"(He’s) going to continue to play in rehab games now and (we’re) just monitoring the situation," Boone said.
Before Thursday’s game, the Yankees reinstated lefty reliever Wandy Peralta from the COVID-19 IL. After Wednesday’s game, outfielder Greg Allen was sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to free up a roster spot … Corey Kluber, out since late May with a right shoulder strain, threw a bullpen Thursday and will throw live BP Saturday. The Yankees are targeting a return sometime in September for the veteran … Boone said Luis Severino, rehabbing from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in February 2020, is slated to make another rehab start Sunday with Class-A Hudson Valley. The Yankees believe the righthander, who came through Tuesday’s 2 1/3-inning rehab outing Tuesday with Double-A Somerset just fine, could be big-league ready within the next 2-3 weeks.