As part of their intake screening process for 2020 preseason training, MLB tested thousands of players and personnel for coronavirus over the last week-plus. The Oakland A’s received their final results Monday evening, and so far one player has announced a positive test: rookie pitcher Jesus Luzardo, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.
As part of the league’s protocol, a player who tests positive must isolate away from their team, and in order to return they must show no symptoms for 72 hours and receive two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. MLB added a COVID-19 related injured list this season, which can be used for any length of time by players who test positive, show symptoms, or have confirmed exposure to the virus.
“I’m feeling good, just ready to get going once I get 2 negatives; praying for it to be soon,” said Luzardo, via Slusser.
The 22-year-old left-hander was a likely candidate for a rotation spot to begin the season, which begins July 24, but that is now in question. With a little over two weeks before Opening Day, even if Luzardo recovers from the virus in time he’ll still lose the ability to train and prepare with the team while he’s out.
However, Slusser points out that this isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for Luzardo’s roster chances: “Limited options to work out in isolation but I don’t think this rules him out of a roster spot or anything. Maybe might not start initially but could be part of a tandem starter situation certainly.” Click here for Slusser’s full writeup (with Matt Kawahara) for more quotes and details.
It’s not clear if anyone else on the team beyond Luzardo tested positive, as clubs need a player’s consent in order to disclose this information. However, all other pitchers and catchers were reportedly working out over the weekend (except Mike Fiers, who was cleared on Monday), and John Hickey of Sports Illustrated reports that “all position players [were] on the field” Tuesday.
If Luzardo isn’t ready for the start of the season, the A’s will have lots of other options for their rotation. Fiers, Frankie Montas, and Sean Manaea appear to be locks, Chris Bassitt and A.J. Puk are both deserving candidates, and Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn, and Daniel Gossett provide even further MLB-caliber depth. Still, the rookie lefty is considered a big part of the team’s plans, with an ace ceiling that he showed flashes of in a brief audition last season.
Of course, all of that is a secondary consideration to Luzardo’s personal health, and that of his teammates and other co-workers. Athletics Nation wishes the best to him and everyone involved, with the hopes that this season will only move forward if it’s safe and sensible to do so.
Click here to see a full list of MLB players who have announced positive tests.