As COVID ravages the Red Sox, their vaccination deficiencies have real ramifications
All-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts lasted an inning before being removed from the game after his last test was positive.
Now almost a quarter of their squad is made up of players who should play for Triple A Worcester.
It’s a Sox product with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the league.
“This is our reality,” said manager Alex Cora.
Most Sox players, coaches, and staff knew the vaccine would help them stay healthy and protect their family, friends, and teammates.
Others decided that their own feelings outweighed the advice of doctors who reached out to the team.
They sat in front of the group and the Sox never reached the 85 percent threshold required to be considered fully vaccinated by Major League Baseball.
It’s a boulder that Cora has been trying to push over a hill for six months. Now it has rolled back and flattened him as the Sox experience the worst outbreak in baseball this season.
The manager, usually a relentlessly happy person, looked drained after a 6-1 defeat on Monday night.
“I’m just tired, to be honest,” he said. “Thinking about it all the time and dealing with it before a game and during a game, to be honest, that’s how I feel right now.”
Every time Cora’s phone buzzes, he hopes it isn’t baseball boss Chaim Bloom or sports coach Brad Pearson with more bad news.
Tuesday didn’t get any easier. Reliever Hirokazu Sawamura tested positive and that forced another squad change, the 14th in five days. Then it was learned that Bogaerts had tested positive.
When the Red Sox were dealing with their crisis, the Patriots released Cam Newton and decided that Mac Jones would be their quarterback.
Newton is not vaccinated and missed five days of camp earlier this month after being described as a “misunderstanding” of the NFL’s strict COVID protocols.
Bill Belichick is unlikely to discuss the extent to which Newton’s vaccination status played a role in his release. But Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer admitted he was considering this when making cuts.
How could you not At this point, every professional team must weigh the risks of keeping an unvaccinated player unless there is a legitimate medical or religious reason.
The Red Sox are an example of how quickly the virus can plow through a team. When the Sox return to Boston on Thursday night, they will quarantine players and coaches in Cleveland and St. Petersburg.
You can’t blame Bloom. Vaccines weren’t yet available when the Red Sox put their list together before spring training. It was not until March that the players were eligible to participate.
But that won’t be the case in 2022. Talent is useless without reliability and executives must decide whether it makes sense to sign or trade a player who will not be vaccinated.
The alternative is what the Red Sox can take now.
Her starting pitcher on Tuesday was Brad Peacock, who was 0-4 with a 7.94 earned running average in Triple A for Cleveland. The Sox traded for him on Monday, starting him with three days of rest.
Peacock allowed five runs over 2 ⅓ innings. The makeshift defense behind him didn’t help.
Even through a mask, Cora’s frustration was evident as he watched from the top step of the shelter. The Sox have defied preseason predictions and are in a position to claim a wildcard seat. Now their season is falling apart and there is little he can do to stop it.
Since March Cora has been saying that vaccination is a personal decision and that this should be respected. We have heard this message from managers and coaches across all team sports. That is politically correct.
But the teams also have a choice and at some point unvaccinated players shouldn’t expect their squad seat to wait. Ask the Red Sox how that worked.