Yankees vaxed third base coach Phil Nevin, others test positive for COVID-19 with more pending

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Mark J. Rebilas/ Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, first base coach Reggie Willits, and a third team staff member have tested positive for COVID-19 the team announced. All three are fully vaccinated, according to a team spokesperson.

Nevin’s “breakthrough positive” case was the first of three released by the team and had put him, along with others, into quarantine protocol as the Yankees opened a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager Aaron Boone said Nevin, who was dosed with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine during spring training was “doing alright.” The news of Willits and a “non-coach” staff member testing positive was announced following the Yankees 3-1 victory over the Rays.

Boone, who said he did not fall into a contact risk told reporters there are other pending tests for coaches and staff, but no players were jeopardized.

He said the team took saliva tests that morning and anticipates multiple rounds of testing to come this week.

“We’ve kind of been preparing I guess over the last 24 hours because we have sent some people home, even some that don’t fall into the protocol of close contact,” Boone said about his now “skeleton staff” on the road.

Of that remaining crew, bench coach Carlos Mendoza assumed Nevin’s role as third base coach and baseball development coordinator Mario Garza will coached first.

“Going back to last year, I guess nothing really surprises you, but still it does catch you off guard a little bit when you get that news,” Boone said.

While wearing a mask for pregame interviews, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said players came together with “different levels of comfortability across the club” in wake of the news.

Following guidance from the MLB, the Players’ Association, and medical staff, Cole told the media that the team is “trying to accommodate that and just kind of stick together as a group and just make sure everybody is in a good spot to perform.” 

“We were in contact with the joint committee in terms of what we can legally do and what we’re comfortable with and what the doctors are saying about our environment and that’s really about all we can do,” he said. “As a whole we’re looking to press on.”

“We’re going to have to adapt and learn as a species, we’re going to take it one step at a time and do the best we can with it.”

Following the game, right fielder Aaron Judge told reporters “there was some concern,” but the team ultimately elected to play.

“We kind of wanted some support from Major League Baseball, you know, kind of protect the players a little bit with this virus going on, but we kind of took a little team vote, decided it was the best thing to do and just kind of went with it,” Judge said.

“We’re all here, we decided we were good to go, ready to play, went out there and took care of business,” he added.

Collectively, the Yankees are 85% vaccinated.

“From a life standpoint, we’re in pretty good shape to handle this because of a lot of our people being vaccinated,” Boone said, saying his main concern was “what it means for us as a team.”