MEMORIAL POLICE – Cleveland Guardian’s first baseman Josh Naylor was added to the team’s COVID-19 injured list on Friday, marking the first player to be put on the sidelines of the team’s most recent outburst.
Cleveland’s game at the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns, and the team was free Thursday. Pitching coach Carl Willis was to lead the team Friday night in Minnesota after manager Terry Francona was among several coaches placed in health and safety protocols.
As of Friday, Naylor was the only Guardians player on the COVID-19 list.
“We’ve had dozens of tests over the last few days,” said general manager Chris Antonetti. “We have followed the guidance in both MLB protocols and recommendations from our medical staff to determine our test.”
Naylor has been one of the team’s best batsmen so far this season, hitting .347 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 20 games.
“He’s been swinging incredibly well since the start of the season, so we’re going to miss him,” Guardian’s right hand man Shane Bieber said about Naylor. “We’re looking for a couple of guys to step in and hopefully fill his shoes and just get the most out of it.”
According to current guidelines, Naylor must be out either 10 days from the day of symptom onset or after receiving two negative tests per day. Antonetti. That means the members of Cleveland’s coaching staff who were sent home this week will not be joining the Minnesota team again.
Francona, who has been dealing with several health issues in recent years, rests in Cleveland.
“He’s hopefully on the road to recovery,” said Antonetti.
Bench coach DeMarlo Hale, first-base coach Sandy Alomar, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh, hit coach Chris Valaika, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres and hit analyst Justin Toole are also off the team due to the outburst.
In addition to Willis serving as acting manager, John McDonald will fill in as a first-base coach, while Kyle Hudson will temporarily take over the coaching duties at third-base. Mike Barnett will serve as Cleveland’s bench coach.
“I told the players, we just want them to play the right way,” said Willis. “We are not getting in the way of them, but we are making decisions as we should and we will move on and move forward.”
Willis says he has been in constant contact with Francona, who provided input to Friday’s lineup.
The twins have also experienced recent instances of COVID-19, including manager Rocco Baldelli and infielder / outfielder Luis Arraez. Both returned in action Thursday.
“Unfortunately, there has been an increase across the country, and also if you look around in Major League Baseball, there have been a number of cases with managers, coaches and players who have had to go to COVID IL recently.” said Antonetti. “I think it’s just a sign of what’s going on happening and the realization that the virus continues to affect the country, and Major League Baseball is not immune to it.”