CHICAGO — Hunter Renfroe doubled down regarding what he said during a radio appearance Thursday.
“I’m not taking back what I said. I can tell you that,” Renfroe said Friday before the Red Sox’ first game of a three-game set against the White Sox. “What I said was true. I’m not going to lie about anything.”
Renfroe claimed Major League Baseball told the Red Sox to stop following the league’s COVID-19 protocols after the team’s widespread outbreak.
“MLB basically told us to stop the testing and just treat the symptoms,” Renfroe told WEEI’s “Merloni and Fauria”, “and we were like ‘No, we’re going to figure out what’s going on, and keep trying to keep this thing under control.’”
WEEI then asked Renfroe if the league told the Red Sox to stop testing.
“Yes,” Renfroe replied.
MLB said Renfroe’s claim was false.
Under league rule, if a player is vaccinated, he doesn’t need to be tested as frequently as an unvaccinated player, unless the vaccinated player feels symptoms. Renfroe acknowledged that was the case in this scenario. But the Red Sox wanted to get a better understanding of who was carrying the virus because a number of players were enduring breakthrough cases.
The league did not object. In fact, the sides have been working closely together, according to the Sox. The Red Sox said they want to take every opportunity to be as safe as possible. Amid the outbreak in Cleveland and Tampa Bay, manager Alex Cora said that when players went home to Boston, many of them — despite testing negative — stayed in hotels to keep their families safe.
“We wanted to take care of our families and it’s something the organization is very proactive,” Cora said. “We love the fact that we feel safe although it doesn’t look that way right now with everything that is going on.”
The Red Sox aren’t at the 85 percent vaccination threshold and are still in the middle of this outbreak. Renfroe believes the outbreak could have been prevented had they not played one of the games in Cleveland.
“Everybody got kind of thrown under the bus with us having a COVID outbreak,” Renfroe said. “It could have been stopped if we could have possibly not played like one of the games in Cleveland and took a day and did the extra testing and kind of figured it out. When we played the Yankees and played Toronto they had outbreaks, we canceled the game and played a doubleheader.”
For the first time since Aug. 31, Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after testing positive for COVID-19, going 2 for 3 with a walk in the 4-3 loss. He was quarantined for eight days in a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel. The shortstop rejoined the team Thursday night. He said he was symptom-free.
“I felt fine the whole time. Having to wait, that was rough,” Bogaerts said. “It was boring, man. I wouldn’t want that for anyone.”
Bogaerts said there wasn’t much he could do to stay active. He ate healthy, did pushups, and swung a bat. He remains surprised that he tested positive.
“I did everything the way I should,” Bogaerts said. “Just being in a clubhouse with a lot of guys, there’s a lot of people. It’s tough to not get it … who knows who has it.”
The Red Sox made a number of roster moves, including putting Jonathan Araúz in addition to Sale on the COVID-19 Related IL list and reinstating shortstop Bogaerts from the COVID-19 Related injured list. Araúz was put on the list because he did not feel well and not because of a positive test … They also put lefthanded pitcher Austin Davis on the paternity leave list and reinstated lefthanded pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez from the 10-Day Injured list … They selected righthanded pitcher Kaleb Ort from Triple-A Worcester. He will wear No. 85… Nick Pivetta is slated to come off the COVID-IL and the plan is for him to pitch Sunday. Saturday is still to be determined but Cora implied Connor Seabold, who is on the taxi squad for this road trip, could start … J.D. Martinez was a late scratch from Friday’s game due to back spasms. Martinez will likely sit out Saturday’s game because of the injury, Cora said.
Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.