Texas Rangers expected COVID-19 to hit team. It has, and here's how they are trying to combat it.
Four players are on the COVID injured list and a fifth could soon be joining them.
Since the Texas Rangers restarted last summer and even now with the team 85% vaccinated, they have been bracing for a COVID-19 outbreak to hit their roster.
It just did.
Three players on Monday joined infielder Charlie Culberson on the COVID-19 injured list, and catcher Jonah Heim was scratched just before first pitch against the Boston Red Sox as he went into the health and safety protocols.
Infielder Brock Holt and right-handers Mike Foltynewicz and Drew Anderson either tested positive or have had close contact, which forced them to the IL. Heim could join them.
As a result, the Rangers played the tropical storm-delayed series finale at Fenway Park with only 24 players. A pitcher was expected to join the Rangers in Cleveland on Tuesday, but, depending on Heim’s availability, a position player could be summoned as well.
“We’re going to take it all in stride and do the best we can to prevent any more issues,” manager Chris Woodward said. “It was just a matter of time, to be honest with you. We tried everything we could. I feel like we did everything we could up to this point. … To get this far was a positive.”
Culberson, Holt and Anderson gave the Rangers permission to say that they are vaccinated. Culberson is feeling better after experiencing symptoms Friday, and Holt has mild symptoms.
They will remain quarantined in Boston. Unvaccinated players must stay on the IL at least seven days if in close contact and 10 days if positive for COVID. Vaccinated players can return sooner.
The Rangers are limited as to what measures they can implement because of the collectively bargained operations manual/healthy protocols, general manager Chris Young said. The Rangers have added additional buses to their travel schedule and are recommending the use of masks and social distancing to all players, vaccinated or not.
“We can not mandate anything outside of [the protocols], but we can strongly encourage everyone to take as much precaution as possible,” Young said. “We’re being as vigilant as possible.'”
The Rangers recalled left-hander Wes Benjamin and first baseman/DH Curtis Terry on Monday. Woodward said a pitcher would be added before the three-game series at Cleveland, and right-handers Glenn Otto and A.J. Alexy are possibilities.
Jose Trevino started in place of Heim, and Yohel Pozo can also catch. Woodward said the Rangers do not need a third baseman, which puts a damper on any speculation that top prospect Josh Jung could be recalled.
Center fielder Leody Taveras is a candidate for a promotion should the Rangers add another position player.