Sports

Yankees’ 3B, 1B coaches positive for COVID-19

New York Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits have tested positive for the coronavirus, the team said Tuesday.

Nevin’s status was announced before Tuesday night’s road game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Willits’ positive case and that of a staff member were confirmed after the Yankees’ 3-1 win. Manager Aaron Boone also said the team is waiting for more results.

Two additional cases are considered inconclusive but are expected to be ruled as positives, a source told ESPN, which would bring to five the number of coaches and support staff members who are positive. ESPN earlier reported that there were five positive cases among the coaching staff.

“We’re doing all we can to stay healthy. A little bit of a skeleton staff but nothing we can’t handle,” Boone said before Tuesday’s game.

A team spokesman said Nevin, Willits and the staff member are fully vaccinated.

Contact tracing is ongoing, but no players are involved, Boone said pregame. Bench coach Carlos Mendoza replaced Nevin as third-base coach, and minor league coordinator Mario Garza filled in as first-base coach for Willits. Boone said several other coaches, including pitching coach Matt Blake, were absent amid tracing.

“Hopefully the fact that we are vaccinated in a pretty large mass … will blunt this and allow a number of us to not get anything and keep the symptoms at a minimum if it does get through,” Boone said.

Boone said after Tuesday’s win that the Yankees are preparing as if they will play Wednesday night.

“Get ready and hope that we avoid any more hiccups or potential positives and things like that,” he said. “Major League Baseball and their doctors are advising us. They know what would require a non-play but they also were very confident today that we could play and should play.”

The Yankees on April 30 were able to relax MLB protocols after reaching an 85% vaccination rate among players and staff such as managers, coaches and athletic trainers. The team spoke with MLB officials about the situation.

“We’ll have to definitely evaluate and make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to prevent things from happening,” Boone said.

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole resumed wearing a mask during a pregame videoconference session Tuesday.

“As a whole, we’re going to press on,” Cole said. “I don’t think this is going to be over for a few years. I think we’re going to have to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. And every time these things come up, we’re going to have to adapt and learn, just as a species.”

Cole said the players were comfortable in playing the game, and right fielder Aaron Judge said the players voted to take the field.

“We’ve all learned that playing through a pandemic last year, nothing surprises you, but it catches you off guard a little bit,” Boone said. “Playing the 2020 season, going through spring training, playing this year and not having an issue, it still hits you, it still stops you in your tracks. Without question we’re certainly more equipped to deal with it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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