PITTSBURGH – Baseball operations brewery president David Stearns announced Tuesday afternoon that left-back Christian Yelich had tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed in quarantine in Milwaukee for at least 10 days.
Stearns said utility player Jace Peterson was also placed in quarantine for seven days due to contact tracking according to the protocols of Major League Baseball. Peterson did not test positive for COVID-19.
Brewers’ charter flight here from Milwaukee was delayed Monday night through Tuesday morning to allow for further contact tracking to ensure no other players were quarantined. Stearns said he had “every expectation” that his team’s game against the Pirates would be played according to plan Tuesday night at PNC Park.
“Christian is fully vaccinated,” Stearns said. “He was vaccinated with the team as a whole right at the start of the season. He has taken precautions seriously and guidelines seriously throughout the season.
“Unfortunately, he started experiencing some mild symptoms yesterday. He did the right thing and reported these mild symptoms. We got him a test yesterday afternoon. The test returned positive. We then got him a confirmation test, which also came back positive.
“While all this was going on (team medical director) Roger Caplinger and his staff, our entire medical staff, did a tremendous job of contact tracking and performing the extra testing that was needed. Out of an abundance of caution as we went through it to wait for the test results, we postponed our team schedule from last night to this morning. “
To replace Yelich and Peterson on their roster, Brewers recalled outfielder Lorenzo Cain from his minor league rehabilitation job with Class AAA Nashville and also called up assistant player Pablo Reyes from that club.
“We reviewed the MLB protocols last night and this morning,” Stearns said.
“As with everything in the world right now, we will never be 100% safe, but I think our group has taken this seriously from the start and our medical staff has done a phenomenal job doing their part to keep everyone safe. “
Yelich’s positive test was unexpected because he had participated in a team vaccination event April 5 in partnership with the Milwaukee Department of Health and participated in a public service announcement released by the Brewers in which he joined teammates Brent Suter, Keston Hiura and Freddy Peralta with the admonition “Let’s crush COVID, Milwaukee!”
“You have policies in place, but we also live our lives so much of it feels beyond our control,” said manager Craig Counsell. “Anytime, because this virus is so contagious, you’re afraid it could infect a lot of people, so it was positive to have the day off (Monday), and we were a little lucky there. I do not think we are completely out. of the forest, but I think that is a good sign that we have not had any other concerns about the spread of the virus.
“I think we all hoped we were past it. I think that’s how we will all feel that we are past it or get past it. But unfortunately we still get reminders that we is past the worst, but it keeps popping up and we still have to deal with it.
“Just to be clear, this was the Christian who reported the symptoms here. I really praise him in this scenario. He reported symptoms, and as a fully vaccinated person, it was important that he did. And that was what saved us in this situation.or minimized things in this situation.
“Over the last year and a half, Roger and his staff have created an excellent set of rules and systems that are not always easy to live by, but we have tried to abide by and hopefully minimize situations like this.”
Brewers players were given a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the group event in April and later announced that they had reached the 85% vaccination rate required by MLB for players and staff who allowed relaxation of certain protocols. But there have been “breakthrough” cases of players testing positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, including two separate cases with the New York Yankees.
The Yankees’ first scheduled game, which came out of the all-star break on July 19 against Boston, was postponed after three jugs tested positive despite being vaccinated. Medical officials have said that people can still get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, but in almost all cases, it prevents hospitalizations and death from the virus.
“I think our medical staff believe that all of these vaccines are extremely effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and worst cases,” Stearns said. “At the end of the day, that’s what vaccines are designed to do, and then they ‘work again.
“There has clearly been a change in the virus. We have a variant and it has apparently created some of these breakthrough cases and I think everyone is still working on investigating them and determining if there is an appropriate course that has to be followed.”
As for Yelich, Stearns said, “It’s clear, disappointing news for Christian. The most important thing is that he’s feeling better. He’s mild symptoms. I talked to him this morning. He’s in a good mood. He’s resting and that is certainly our hope that he can quickly knock it out and feel better. ”
“For Christian, this means at least 10 days. Since Christian has shown some symptoms, the time frame will also be determined by the resolution of his symptoms, so it will be at least 10 days for Christian. For Jace, it will be seven days.”
It has already been a season of struggle for Yelich, both in terms of health and on-site production. He was the sideline for five weeks in April and May with a lower back problem that lingered far longer than expected and which has not been the same player since he returned.
In 67 matches, Yelich hit .235 with six home runs and 28 runs beaten in over 275 record matches. Thanks to a team-high 50 walks, he had a .382 base percentage, but only a .367 swallow percentage, by far the lowest in his career. With 76 strikes, he has a rate of 27.6%.
Instead of showing improvement, Yelich had been at its worst in July. In 19 games, he hit .209 (14 for 67) with a home run, five RBIs, .329 on-base percentage and .299 slugging percentage. He pulled ten walks and struck out 20 times.
It has been a long way from Yelich’s first two seasons with the Brewers in 2018-19, when he won the National League’s most valuable player award and finished second and won the franchise’s first two titles in the process, respectively. He led the NL with a .598 slugging percentage in ’18 and topped majors with a .671 mark in ’19, hitting a total of 80 home runs.
Yelich broke his right kneecap on September 10, 2019 in Miami when he rejected a pitch from it and missed the rest of the season. Much of this winter was dedicated to physical rehabilitation, and he was slowly brought along in the spring training of 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed camps across majors.
After a break of more than three months, the team hurried through a three-week summer camp and played a shortened 60-game season. Yelich started brutally, went 1 to 27 with 12 strikes and never quite came back. He fought .205 in 58 games with 12 home runs, 22 RBIs and 76 strikes in 200 balls and finished with a .786 OPS.
Yelich appeared to be back on track in the show season this spring, hitting .393 over 28 bats with two doubles, one triple, three home runs, eight RBIs and 1,357 OPS. But he left a game in St. Louis. Louis on April 11 with the back edition and has not seen the same thing on the record since returning to action for good on May 18th.
After one comprehensive pre-game session hitting coach Andy Haines on July 9, Yelich joked that he “learned to hit again.” But it was clearly the frustration he felt about not being able to approach the form that made him one of the game’s most feared sluggers during the first two years with the Brewers.
“It’s been a lot of things, really the last two years,” he said. “It is difficult to explain quickly. I’m just trying to figure it out. I know what I want to do. It’s just a matter of being able to do that. I do not even see the same thing out there right now. We literally start from the front row and try to figure out (things). “
Now, for at least 10 days, Yelich does not play baseball. Stearns said the biggest consideration was that the symptoms were mild and that Yelich should recover quickly.
“I don’t think this has been his favorite year of all,” Stearns said. “He’s handled a lot. When I spoke to him this morning, he did not feel well, but he was in a good mood. It’s just another challenge he wants to overcome.
“He’s going through this. He wants to be back with the team. And we’m definitely looking forward to getting him back.”
Williams reinstated from IL: Brewers reinstated reliever Devin Williams from the 10-day injury list and selected left-handed reliever Angel Perdomo for Nashville. Williams had been sidelined with elbow inflammation, but spent at least 10 days on IL.
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