CHICAGO — What’s it going to take for more Red Sox players to get vaccinated?
The daily dose of bad news arrived Friday morning when it was announced Chris Sale had tested positive and would miss his start on Sunday.
At the height of the pennant race he’s expected to be out at least 10 days. Thursday was the 14th consecutive game the Sox have played without at least one key player in the lineup because of COVID-19 and that streak won’t end anytime soon.
“At this point nothing shocks me to be honest with you,” manager Alex Cora said before a 4-3 loss against the White Sox.
Forget about the baseball implications for a minute. Having 10 co-workers test positive would motivate plenty of people to put aside their reservations and get vaccinated, but the Red Sox remain below the 85 percent threshold that Major League Baseball has made the goal for every team.
Manager Alex Cora said Friday that several Sox players and coaches stayed in a Boston hotel during the last homestand because they didn’t want to take a chance of exposing their families to the virus.
“We wanted to take care of our families,” Cora said. “This is something the organization is very pro-active. We love the fact that we feel safe although it doesn’t look that way — right? — with everything that is going on.”
Cora has tried to further protect his family by having them frequently tested.
Getting vaccinated would help to keep those people safer, many of them small children. But that hasn’t worked, either.
The Sox have so far been lucky. Only a few of their players have had symptoms and none serious enough to require hospitalization.
But being a young athlete doesn’t protect you from the ravages of COVID-19. Eduardo Rodriguez was bedridden last summer after contracting the virus and was diagnosed with inflammation of the heart muscle.
Seeing a teammate go through that would seem to be ample motivation to get vaccinated. But it hasn’t been.
Now let’s get to the baseball implications.
The Red Sox have a chance to play in the postseason. Their best route at this stage would be the wild card and a one-game showdown on Oct. 5 to advance to a Division Series.
If healthy, the Sox would have a better chance to earn home-field advantage and start Sale or Nate Eovaldi against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners or Athletics at Fenway Park.
That’s a golden opportunity. Get to the Division Series and anything can happen. But if the Sox field a team of call-ups and cast-offs for the next few weeks, they could lose that chance.
That’s a reason to get vaccinated, especially when the Red Sox have had medical professionals explain that the vaccine is safe.
Then there’s next season. A player’s vaccination status will clearly be factored in his value as a free agent or trade candidate. Given what the Red Sox, Yankees, and other teams have experienced this season, unvaccinated players may not have the opportunities their vaccinated counterparts will.
But that hasn’t made a difference.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. The Red Sox clubhouse is a slice of the population. They have players from six countries and 14 states. Some players are college graduates and others gave up school when they were in their teens to chase their baseball dreams.
There are liberals, conservatives, and political agnostics. Some players got vaccinated the first day they could, and others are clinging to conspiracy theories or what they read on Instagram and are refusing.
In that sense they’re probably not dissimilar to where you work or your own families. The entire country is fighting over this topic and it seems to get worse every day.
Cora has acknowledged his frustration but in recent days has accepted that this is the team he has and he’ll manage the 26 players on the roster that day.
Whatever it will take for more Red Sox players to get vaccinated, it hasn’t happened yet.