MINNEAPOLIS – COVID has dealt the Guardians another blow.
Josh Naylor, the best clutch hitter in baseball, has been placed on the COVID-19 injured list following an outbreak that put several members of the coaching staff, including manager Terry Francona, on the COVID injured list. Naylor, hitting .347 (25-for-72) with five homers and 22 RBI, tested positive Wednesday afternoon.
MLB’s new protocols, which were approved by the MLBPA after the lockout, required players to take a COVID test upon entry to their spring training facility. After that they would only be tested if they showed symptoms.
The team announced several moves to fill out their roster and coaching staff before opening a three-game series against the Twins on Friday night at Target Field. Naylor is coming off a career game in Chicago where he drove in eight runs from the eighth inning on as the Guardians rallied to beat the White Sox, 12-9. Naylor had an RBI double, grand slam and a game-winning three-run homer in the spree.
Here are the player moves:
* Yu Chang was activated from the COVID-19 IL and left-hander Kirk McCarty was optioned to the Class AAA Columbus and the taxi squad.
* Rookie outfielder Richie Palacios was recalled from Columbus.
* The Guardians taxi squad consists of McCarty, right-hander Anthony Castro and catcher Bryan Lavastida.
Here are the coaching moves:
* Mike Barnett, bench coach.
* Rigo Beltran, bullpen coach.
* Amando Camacaro and Richie Pacione, bullpen catchers.
* Anthony D’Elia, replay coordinator.
* Jason Esposito, assistant hitting coach.
* Kyle Hudson, third base coach.
* John McDonald, first base coach.
* Victor Rodriguez, hitting coach.
* Brian Sweeney, pitching coach.
* Carl Willis, acting manager.
On Wednesday in Chicago, the Guardians game against the White Sox was postponed because of a COVID outbreak that hit Francona, bench DeMarlo Hale, first base coach Sandy Alomar, third base coach Mike Sarbaugh, hitting coach Chris Valaika and pitching assistant coach Joe Torres.
Team President Chris Antonetti, when asked about putting a new coaching staff together over the last 48 hours, said, “One of the things we’ve learned over the last few years is to be able to adapt to changing circumstances. We are fortunate to work with and alongside so many great people throughout the organization who are willing to try to step in and help. ”
Antonetti did not go into many details about Francona’s health, but added, “I can share that Tito is actually doing well. He’s traveled back to Cleveland and is hopefully on the path to recovery. “
Francona has had numberous health issues over the last two seasons that have kept him out of the dugout for a prolonged period of time.
Where did the new coaches come from?
Barnett is in his seventh season as the Guardians’ replay coordinator. Now he’ll be serving Willis as bench coach. Beltran, the new bullpen coach, is the pitching coach at Class AAA Columbus. D’Elia, the new replay coordinator, was pulled out of the baseball ops / technology department to replace Barnett. Espositio, the new assistant hitting coach, is the hitting coach at Columbus. Hudson, the new third base coach, is the outfield coach on the big-league staff. McDonald, the new first base coach, is the Guardians minor league field coordinator. Rodriguez, the new hitting coach, was the assistant hitting coach on the big-league staff. Sweeney, the new pitching coach, is the big-league bullpen coach. Willis, the acting manager, is the Guardians pitching coach.
Camacaro and Pacione stayed in their roles as bullpen coaches.
One more thing. The last pitcher to manage Cleveland entry in the American League was Walter Johnson from 1933 through 1935. Like Willis, his nickname was “The Big Train.”
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