ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When Kiké Hernández and Christian Arroyo hit the COVID-related injured list last Friday, Yairo Muñoz and Jonathan Araúz were called up from Triple A Worcester to take their place.
It hasn’t even been a week since that moment, and now it is Muñoz who has been placed on the injured list as a result of COVID-19.
Muñoz joins Hernández, Arroyo, Hirokazu Sawamura, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, Martín Pérez, quality control coach Rámon Vázquez, and strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose as the ninth team member to have tested positive. Josh Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin have been deemed close contacts.
“I mean, it’s hard to see all that’s happening right now,” said starter Eduardo Rodriguez prior to Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the Rays. “Especially this time of the year when we need the whole team to give the last push to the playoffs. I will say the whole team to be together to get the last push to play with me. I mean it is what it is. I mean, we have to find a way to battle and win games.”
The Sox tried to bolster their depleted ranks by activating reliever Ryan Brasier and utilityman Danny Santana off the injured list prior to Wednesday night’s game.
Muñoz entered Tuesday night’s game and played second base after Bogaerts was pulled from the game in the second inning when the Sox learned he had tested positive. Araúz started the game at second but shifted to shortstop in place of Bogaerts.
“I’m kind of like we need to start playing baseball and start focusing on baseball,” said manager Alex Cora, who admitted Monday he was tired from all the bad news and COVID cases. “Whatever news comes we have to turn the page and move forward because we don’t know what can happen in a few hours, but we can control what happens in between lines.”
Baseball is hard to focus on, however, when nearly a quarter of your active roster is made up of Triple A players as a result of the virus.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” said chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. “How else can you react? We try to go to great lengths to keep these sorts of things from happening. And then to see what’s happening now, it’s really hard.”
The Red Sox middle infield is gutted without Arroyo, Hernández, Bogaerts, and now Muñoz. It has forced the Red Sox to start Jack López, who made his major league debut at second base Thursday after nine years in the minors.
“We will see where we are roster-wise later on,” Cora said. “We’ll take it day by day. Hopefully, we can get some of these guys back sooner rather than later and we’ll adjust from it.”
Hernández feeling better
Cora mentioned that Hernández is feeling better, and could join the team for their weekend series against the Indians at Fenway. Cora said Hernández might not be available for Friday’s opener, but perhaps Saturday or Sunday.
Hernández, along with Arroyo and Momose, remain in Cleveland and can’t leave their hotel rooms. Team members who tested positive in Tampa must follow the same protocols.
If a player or staff member is vaccinated, the quarantine is up to 10 days, but it could be less. If a player or staff member isn’t vaccinated, it’s at least 10 days, but it could be more.
The Red Sox biggest splash at the trade deadline was Kyle Schwarber. He’s produced at the plate for the Red Sox, but has looked uncomfortable at first base. It has led to more time for J.D. Martinez in the outfield to accommodate Schwarber at designated hitter.
The Red Sox needed a starter but acquired relievers Hansel Robles and Austin Davis but neither have produced on the hill, forcing fans and critics to ask if the Sox did enough at the trade deadline.
“I’m never going to sit here and tell you that I or we are perfect,” Bloom said. “I know that we’re not. I think whenever we do that we have to make sure we’re doing it in light of prioritizing evidence over narrative. That’s really important to look at. It’s very easy to go back with the benefit of hindsight and see who’s playing well and who’s not? The question is what was knowable? What was foreseeable?”
Fans to mask up at Fenway
When the next Red Sox homestand begins Friday against Cleveland, fans will need to keep their masks handy, if not on their faces, for the duration of their visit to Fenway Park.
A citywide mask mandate for indoor spaces intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 went into effect last Friday, with the Red Sox on the road. After the Aug. 20 announcement of the mandate, the Red Sox consulted with the City of Boston to clarify which spaces at Fenway Park qualified as indoor.
The list includes team stores, restrooms, and elevators, and indoor clubs, restaurants, and suites.
In a message about the new restrictions on the team website, the Red Sox stated: “Masking will be required in all publicly accessible indoor spaces at Fenway Park, regardless of vaccination status, with the exception of those who are actively eating and drinking.”
The club encourages anyone who is not vaccinated to wear a mask at all times, and reminds fans that masks must cover both nose and mouth.
Fenway Park has been open to full capacity since May 29, after opening the season at 12 percent and then going to 25 percent earlier in May.
Michael Silverman contributed to this report.