Yankees vaxed coaches and staff member positive for COVID-19, other tests pending

Apr 5, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (right) is congratulated by third base coach Phil Nevin (left) after hitting a grand slam home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, first base coach Reggie Willits, and a third team staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 the team announced Tuesday.

All three are fully vaccinated, according to a team spokesperson.

Nevin’s “breakthrough positive” case was the first of three released by the team and had put him – along with others – into quarantine protocol as the Yankees prepared for a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager Aaron Boone said Nevin, who was dosed with a Johnson & Johnson shot during spring training was “doing alright,” the news of Willits and a “non-coach” staff member testing positive was announced following the Yankees 3-1 victory.

Boone, who said he did not fall into a contact risk told reporters there are other pending tests for coaches and staff, but no players were jeopardized.

He said the team took saliva tests that morning and anticipates multiple rounds of testing to come Wednesday

“As of right now I’m absolutely planning on playing tomorrow,” Boone said Tuesday night.

“We’ve kind of been preparing I guess over the last 24-hours because we have sent some people home, even some that don’t fall into the protocol of close contact,” the manager added about his now “skeleton staff” on the road.

Of that remaining crew, bench coach Carlos Mendoza assumed Nevin’s role as third base coach and baseball development coordinator Mario Garza will coached first.

“Going back to last year, I guess nothing really surprises you, but still it does catch you off guard a little bit when you get that news,” Boone said.

While wearing a mask for pregame interviews, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said players came together with “different levels of comfortability across the club” in wake of the news.

Following guidance from the MLB, MLB Players Association, and medical staff, Cole told media that the team is “trying to accommodate that and just kind of stick together as a group and just make sure everybody is in a good spot to perform.”

“We were in contact with the joint committee in terms of what we can legally do and what we’re comfortable with and what the doctors are saying about our environment and that’s really about all we can do,” he said.

“As a whole we’re looking to press on,” Cole added, adding that he believes these kind of scenarios will continue popping up over the next few years.

“We’re going to have to adapt and learn as a species, we’re going to take it one step at a time and do the best we can with it,” the right hander said.

Following the game, right fielder Aaron Judge told reporters “there was some concern,” but the team ultimately elected to play.

“We kind of wanted some support from Major League Baseball, you know, kind of protect the players a little bit with this virus going on, but we kind of took a little team vote, decided it was the best thing to do and just kind of went with it,” Judge said.

“We’re all here, we decided we were good to go, ready to play, went out there and took care of business,” he added.

Collectively, the Yankees are 85 percent vaccinated.

“From a life standpoint, we’re in pretty good shape to handle this because of a lot of our people being vaccinated,” Boone said, saying his main concern on “what it means for us as a team.”

More from Around NYC