A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it should be obvious by now how to take proper precautions. At this point, they should be second nature, even if they’re not all that pleasant. Several MLB players haven’t been able to adapt, though, and have caused issues that could have otherwise been avoided. As the MLB season starts to unroll, precautions are necessary to ensure there’s no repeat of last year.
MLB Players Become COVID-19 Risks
Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes are no longer suiting up for the Cleveland Indians after breaking league COVID-19 protocols. The two reportedly dined together last Friday at a restaurant and, once the word got out, they were forced to take an unscheduled break from baseball. Given that Ramirez and Reyes are two batting stars for the Indians, their absence will be felt, even if it is still only spring training. The Indians were dinged last year for the same exact issue, and it seems the team isn’t willing to play by the rules.
Not only are the Indians hitting foul COVID-19 balls and potentially causing problems for baseball, but so are the Chicago Cubs. Reliever Pedro Strop reportedly violated COVID-19 rules, according to MLB reporter Jordan Bastian, and was with Ramirez and Reyes. His violation was discovered in a post on social media, which was later mysteriously deleted. All three of the players are being held out as a precaution, but could face fines for their actions.
The Detroit Tigers may believe infielder Zack Short is made out of steel. While at the plate as his team took on the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, Short took a shot to the face from right-handed pitcher Elvis Luciano in an errant pitch. It went wild at over 90MPH and, fortunately, Short didn’t appear to suffer serious injuries, which is impressive for that much speed. However, Luciano threw another wild ball in the sixth that smacked Tigers catcher Grayson Greiner in the face and. He is being submitted to medical exams to search for damage, while Luciano might need to be submitted to exams to get a better idea of his ball-handling capabilities.
Jeffress No Longer A National
The Washington Nationals have decided to part ways with right-handed pitcher Jeremy Jeffries. He had only spent a couple of weeks practicing with the team in hopes of earning a regular bullpen spot, but couldn’t impress the coaching staff enough to make them keep him around. The former Chicago Cubs pitcher will now look for a new home after the Nationals decided to let him go “for personnel reasons.”
The Houston Astros have added some more juice to their bullpen by signing righty Jake Odorizzi. Framber Valdez is out due to surgery, so the team needed someone to fill the void, and the former Minnesota Twins All-Star could be a valuable asset. He went 15-7 in 2019, with a 3.51 ERA and 178 strikeouts. However, injuries kept him benched for much of last season, and he only pitched in less than 14 innings.
The San Diego Padres have picked up Jordan Humphreys off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. He’ll now be a fixture on the 40-man roster after having spent time with the New York Mets and the Giants since entering the league in 2015. In 2018, he was out for Tommy John surgery, and has slowly been working his way back since then. In order to make room for Humphreys, Jose Castillo has been moved to the Padres’ 60-day injured list.
Giants Improve Their Bullpen
The Giants have made a change to their bullpen as they look to get things started on April 1. José Álvarez was signed to a one-year deal that includes a club option for next year, earning $1.15 million for the upcoming season. If the Giants take the option, the lefty will add another $1.5 million for that season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have brought in Duane Underwood, acquiring the reliever from the Cubs in exchange for first-base prospect Shendrik Apostel. This player juggling act included Carson Fulmer, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates in order to make room on the team’s 40-man roster. In three seasons, he pitched in 36.1 innings for the Cubs and, with a smoking changeup, could be an important addition to Pittsburgh.
People will sometimes brag of being able to perform a certain trick “with one eye closed,” but Trevor Bauer can do more than just brag about it. The LA Dodgers pitcher was on the mound against the Padres this past Saturday and threw the entire time with one eye closed. It worked, too, as he recorded three scoreless innings and three strikeouts. The man with the $100-million arm explained to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times why he did it, stating, “I like making myself uncomfortable and throwing different stuff my way and trying to find a solution for it. That’s how you improve. Find a way to make yourself uncomfortable, then get comfortable with it and do it again.”