NEW YORK — Thursday’s scheduled game between the Red Sox and Yankees was postponed after six Yankees tested positive for COVID-19.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that pitchers Nestor Cortes, Wandy Peralta, and Jonathan Loaisiga had all tested positive for the virus through both rapid testing and PCR tests. Three additional Yankees had been quarantined after positive rapid test results and were awaiting the more definitive results of their PCR tests.
“We’re in a very fluid situation,” said Cashman. “It could spread and has spread to some of the group we have.”
Among the three Yankees awaiting PCR results, according to multiple MLB sources, was outfielder Aaron Judge. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Kyle Higashioka and Gio Urshela were also in COVID-19 protocols.
The inclusion of Judge in that list had implications for the Red Sox given that five of their players — Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Matt Barnes, and Nate Eovaldi — shared a clubhouse with him on Monday and Tuesday during All-Star festivities at Coors Field.
“Obviously I’m worried,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora — at a time when he didn’t know that Judge was among those awaiting test results. “Some of [the Red Sox All-Stars] are vaccinated. Some of them are not. Just a matter of hopefully they get tested today, they got tested this morning I think it was, and hopefully everything comes back the way it should.”
MLB determined around 4:30 p.m. that it would cancel Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees game — the only one on the schedule in the big leagues — in light of the positive tests. The Red Sox conducted an on-field workout after learning of the postponement.
Red Sox second baseman/centerfielder Kiké Hernández, who had expressed frustration in being on one of the two teams that would have a truncated break, took note of the timing of the cancellation.
“Things happen for a reason,” said Hernández. “It’s hard to make fun of the situation considering it’s the other team’s health and it’s not the weather or anything like that, but everything happens for a reason. Everybody else got an extra day. We got our extra day one way or the other. …
“We’re taking today as a workout day and show up [Friday]. Hopefully we get to play [Friday]. If not, that’s above my pay grade.”
It remains to be seen when the series resumes — a decision that will be made by MLB rather than the teams. Cora expressed his hope that, if the teams do play on Friday, then at the least they would not be asked to play a doubleheader so that a full assessment of the extent of the outbreak can be made.
“I think we have to take care of the whole thing and I think the most important thing is [the Yankees’] clubhouse now,” said Cora. “In our case, we’re going to be aggressive quote-unquote as far as testing. We talked about it today — it doesn’t matter if you’re unvaccinated or vaccinated. I think the smart thing to do is to get back to what we did early in the season and we’ll get back to that.
“We’ve got to take care of [the Yankees]. It’s very important. We don’t want to take any chances. I think, from my end, playing two tomorrow doesn’t make sense. Hopefully we can play one but the league will decide that. That’s the No. 1 priority. Just take care of [the Yankees].”
Cashman said that “most” of the six Yankees who’d entered the protocols, and all three Yankees pitchers who were confirmed positives, had been vaccinated — two with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and one with a two-shot vaccine. He reported that all of the Yankees players who had tested positive or were in the protocols were doing well.
J.D. Martinez — who disclosed that he became infected with COVID-19 last October (“It got me really good — I have bad asthma, but I was able to bounce back and I’m fine now,” he said) — suggested that the timing of the positive tests immediately after the All-Star break did not come as a surprise. He said that the dispersal of players for travel during the All-Star break made exposures likely.
“MLB has done a great job all year long. The cases have been almost none this year compared to what it was last year. [But] I think we all expected some kind of positives,” said Martinez. “Any time you have your group, everyone goes home, goes on commercial flights, goes home, goes out, hangs out, goes around people, I think for all of us to say that no one was going to have a positive test, I think it’s a little bit of a stretch. Hopefully, [since the Yankees players who tested positive] all had the vaccines, they bounce back quick.”
Thursday marked the second consecutive Red Sox regular-season game in which the team’s opponent faced a COVID-19 outbreak. Prior to the final game of the first half, Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list and three of his teammates were put in contact tracing.
“It’s weird,” said Cora. “Baseball aside, not knowing what can happen. When I found out today, I thought, ‘There’s a chance we don’t play today.’ The more we knew, the more I was convinced we were not playing. It sucks but like I said before, this is bigger than baseball. We understand that. We got our workout in and they will tell us when and where. We’ll shut up and we play.”
“It’s nobody’s fault,” Cora said. “We’re fighting against an invisible enemy.
“Players are human beings. The world has been relaxing. [But] it’s still out there,” he added. “It feels like [the pandemic is] over and it’s not. … We’ve been so responsible for so long. [But] it’s human nature to relax. It’s human nature. I understand that.”
A look at the sequence of events surrounding Thursday’s postponement.
12:43 p.m.: Yankees announce lefthanders Nestor Cortes and Wandy Peralta have been placed on MLB’s COVID-19 injured list.
4 p.m.: Yankees cancel batting practice and ask reporters to leave the field.
4:25 p.m.: Red Sox become aware the game could be postponed. “I think there’s a lot of stuff going on right now,” manager Alex Cora suddenly says during an otherwise routine meeting with reporters on Zoom.
4:41 p.m.: MLB announces game is postponed.
4:55 p.m.: Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells reporters the team has three positive tests and three results pending.
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.