Guardians hit with COVID-19 outbreak, manager Francona out
CHICAGO (AP) — The Cleveland Guardians are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that has sidelined manager Terry Francona and several of the team’s coaches, leading to the postponement of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
Shortly after Francona’s positive test became known, Major League Baseball said there were “multiple positive COVID-19 tests” in Cleveland’s organization and called off Wednesday’s series finale to allow for more testing and contact tracing. No makeup date has been announced.
It’s the first coronavirus-related postponement since the season started on April 7.
Guardians bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who was slotted to fill in for Francona, also tested positive, and Cleveland has “multiple coaches and other team support staff members” infected with the virus, according to team spokesman Bart Swain.
There are no known current cases among Cleveland’s players. The team recently had an outbreak.
At this point, it’s unclear who will manage the Guardians when they open a three-game series in Minnesota on Friday. It’s likely the team will bring up several minor league coaches and field coordinators for the series.
First-base coach Sandy Alomar could be an option to manage. He took over those duties during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after Francona was forced to step away after just 14 games due to a health issue.
Following the postponement, the team members not affected by the virus flew to Minneapolis. Francona, Hale and the others who tested positive are expected to bus back to Cleveland in the coming days.
Before Francona’s positive test was announced, the Guardians met about re-instituting their mask policy. Once a team reaches a certain threshold of cases, masks are required, per MLB guidelines.
The Guardians are off Thursday. The team did set its rotation for the Twins series, with Aaron Civale starting on Friday, followed by Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie. Civale was scheduled to start Wednesday.
Francona, who has dealt with serious health problems the past two seasons, tested positive for the virus a few hours before the scheduled first pitch. The team said the 63-year-old Francona currently is not showing any symptoms.
Cleveland’s team recently had a coronavirus outbreak, with infielders Owen Miller, Yu Chang and pitchers Cal Quantrill and Anthony Castro all being placed on the COVID-19 injury list. All have returned except Chang, who is in the minors.
Also, the team’s TV broadcast crew had several members test positive during the team’s West Coast trip.
Francona had been in good health this season following two challenging years. In 2020, he was hospitalized with gastrointestinal issues. Last year, Francona struggled after undergoing offseason surgery on his foot and left the team in July.
Francona is in his 10th season with Cleveland. He won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox.
White Sox: OF Yermín Mercedes (left hamate fracture) returned from a rehab assignment and was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte.
White Sox: 2B Leury García was scratched from the starting lineup because of a sore left ankle. … OF Andrew Vaughn (right hand bruise) was sent to Charlotte for a rehab assignment.
Guardians: Civale (1-2, 9.45 ERA) struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings while picking up a win on May 5 against Toronto.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Cease (3-1, 2.38 ERA) will face the New York Yankees on Thursday. Cease allowed one run in five innings in a 3-1 win at Boston on Saturday.
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