Three NBA players have tested positive for the coronavirus since last week, and professional baseball now has its first known case of the virus as well.
A minor league player in the New York Yankees’ system has tested positive for the coronavirus, ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Sunday. The player was instructed to quarantine on Friday morning after coming down with a fever, and he has since tested positive for COV-19.
A minor league player in the New York Yankees system has tested positive for coronavirus, sources tell ESPN. He is the first known case in baseball. He was quarantined Friday morning after saying he was running a fever.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 15, 2020
The Yankees player who tested positive for coronavirus was only on the minor league side of the team's facility in Tampa. Still, as we're learning about coronavirus' ability to spread, that distance alone does not necessarily protect those who are nearby from contracting it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 15, 2020
The news of a professional baseball player testing positive for the coronavirus came not long after Major League Baseball sent a memo to teams instructing them to end organized workouts, so it seems likely that the two events were related.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first pro athlete from the major American sports to test positive for the Coronavirus, and his teammate Donovan Mitchell as well as Detroit Pistons center Christian Wood have tested positive since.
- New York Yankees
The New York Yankees have some injury problems in their rotation, and they may turn to their crosstown rivals to try to acquire a stopgap.
According to Mike Puma and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Yankees have contacted the New York Mets with interest in pitcher Steven Matz.
Matz is battling for the final spot in the Mets’ rotation. While the Mets are open to listening, there appears to be little momentum toward a deal at this time, as the Mets would want an MLB-ready position player in return.
The Yankees are down multiple starters. Domingo German is serving a suspension for domestic abuse, while James Paxton is likely out for at least a month or two after undergoing back surgery. The latest news is probably the biggest blow yet to their pitching staff.
The Yankees don’t have a lot of options this early in the season. They are, at the very least, scouring the trade market for help.
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman revealed on Tuesday that doctors have recommended Tommy John surgery for Luis Severino, and the right-hander has confirmed he will undergo the season-ending procedure.
Severino issued a statement saying he is “extremely disappointed” he will not be able to pitch in 2020 but assuring Yankees fans he will “come back stronger than ever to make the greatest fans in baseball proud.”
Luis Severino has released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/SDIMegu2Mm
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 26, 2020
Severino made just three starts last season after battling arm trouble throughout the entire year. The 26-year-old threw 191.1 innings in 2018 and went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and 220 strikeouts. He was named to the All-Star team in both 2017 and 2018, so not having him this season will be a major blow for the Yankees once again.
The Yankees bolstered their rotation this winter with the addition of Gerrit Cole, but they will already be without another top starting pitcher in addition to Severino to begin the season. Their depth will be tested early, and it would not be a surprise if they make a move to add a starter at the trade deadline or sooner with Severino now officially out for the season.
The Washington Nationals are reveling in the fact that they managed to beat the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series, and they’re having some fun with it on social media.
The Nationals sent a Valentine’s Day note to the New York Yankees, the team that lost the 2017 ALCS to the sign-stealing Astros team, in a bid to make them feel a little bit better about things.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 14, 2020
It’s a cute message, but don’t expect the Yankees to feel better. The rest of baseball won’t either. There’s a huge degree of animosity toward the Astros, which probably only makes the Nationals feel more proud that they managed to overcome Houston and win the World Series in 2019.
Carlos Beltran has been painted as one of the masterminds behind the elaborate cheating scheme that was in place with the Houston Astros during the 2017 season, and many have wondered if he taught some of his methods to the New York Yankees last year. According to Brian Cashman, the Yankees had no involvement in anything like that.
Cashman had high praise for Beltran when speaking with reporters on Friday, calling the former Yankees special advisor a “good person” and a “gentle giant.” When asked about the rumblings that Beltran must have shared his sign-stealing tactics with the Yankees, Cashman said his team “did things right.”
“Well Carlos Beltran was a part of our organization last year and didn’t have any influence … we did things right,” the Yankees GM said, via SNY’s Coby Green. “We asked so many people, Carlos included, because there’s been a lot of suspicion on the Houston Astros and what happened in ’17, and anybody that’s been a part of that and they kind of avoided answering the questions.”
While he stopped short of calling Beltran innocent, Cashman said he has a hard time believing the report about Beltran having “steamrolled” Astros players who did not want to adhere to his illegal system.
“I’m not saying he didn’t do anything wrong,” Cashman admitted. “Obviously the commissioner’s report speaks for itself, but in terms of forcing people to do this that or another thing, I’m having a hard time buying that, because that’s not the person that I knew as a player and not the person that I knew as our special advisor.”
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa enthusiastically defended Beltran this week against talk that Beltran pressured other players to hop aboard his cheating train, so it’s possible that report was exaggerated a bit.
As for the Yankees, many will find it hard to believe that Beltran went from being the mastermind of an elaborate cheating scheme to doing everything by the book in New York. The way Alex Cora spoke about Beltran during a press conference after the Boston Red Sox faced the Yankees last year has also led to some suspicions. Beltran and anyone associated with the 2017 Astros have lost the benefit of the doubt.
A sportsbook is taking advantage of the Houston Astros cheating scandal to get some good PR and build some loyalty with bettors.
PointsBet Sportsbook announced Friday that it would be refunding all AL and World Series futures bets placed on the New York Yankees as part of a “good karma refund” following the Yankees falling to the Astros in the 2019 ALCS.
KARMA KOMMITTEE ALERT
The Astros cheated. The Yankees lost. PointsBet is refunding ALL Yankees AL Futures and World Series Futures Bets in full!
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) January 17, 2020
PointsBet only operates in Iowa and New Jersey, and MLB’s investigation found that the Astros did not violate MLB rules on technology and sign stealing in 2019. Ultimately, that doesn’t really matter, because this is a great way for this company to get some free PR. Plus, regardless of whether it happened in 2019 or not, the Yankees definitely feel robbed, so this is a gesture of good will.
Some seemingly innocuous remarks Alex Cora made to the media last season following a sweep at the hands of the New York Yankees have been examined closely in the wake of MLB’s sign stealing scandal, and many view them as more bad news for Carlos Beltran.
Beltran, who is close friends with Cora and played for the Houston Astros when Cora was a bench coach with the team, was hired by the Yankees as a special adviser prior to last season. After the Yankees swept the Boston Red Sox in the London Series in June, Cora quipped that New York’s biggest free agent acquisition last year was Beltran and said Beltran had helped the Yankees with their attention to detail. To counter that, Cora said the Red Sox have to “clean our details.”
Here’s video of the Alex Cora soundbite we just played on @WFANmornings. This was following the Yankees’ sweep of Boston in the 2019 London Series. Check out the wink after he brings up Carlos Beltran’s name around :27 and unprovoked usage of the word “devices.” (h/t @Pacmangrig) pic.twitter.com/HgkglIoB7O
— Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) January 15, 2020
“It was eye-opening the last few days from top to bottom,” Cora said of the series. “And I’m not saying devices and all that stuff — it’s just stuff that the game will dictate and will scream at people, and (Beltran is) right there. Throughout the evening I was looking and I saw it, and right now they’re a lot better than us.”
Now that we know Cora and Beltran were at the center of the sign stealing scheme that was implemented in Houston during the 2017 season, there’s a belief that Cora was referring to sign stealing tactics when he made those remarks about Beltran. He stopped short of accusing Beltran of any wrongdoing, which would have been incredibly hypocritical. However, Cora seemed to be dancing around the subject for whatever reason, and it’s unclear what he meant by “devices.”
The Red Sox are being investigated for illegally using the video replay room to help steal signs during the 2018 season. The report from The Athletic that led to the investigation said the Yankees and other teams did the same dating back to 2015, though that was before MLB issued a memo emphasizing its rules on using electronics to help steal signs. The Athletic report also said the Astros believed the Yankees were using a YES Network camera in center field in 2018 to zoom in on the catcher’s signs, but MLB had reportedly approved the use of the camera as a coaching tool. The Astros did not push the matter at the time, but they brought it back to MLB’s attention when they were being investigating for sign stealing.
MLB is aware of the video of Cora’s comments about Beltran, but there are no plans to investigate the Yankees at this time.
Regarding video of Cora talking about Beltran helping Yankees in '19.
MLB sources reaffirm this AM they're not investigating NYY. Video could easily be talking pitch tipping/legal sign stealing.
NYY have adamantly denied CB helped them do anything illegal. League corroborates
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) January 15, 2020
While the Astros and Red Sox seem to have been particularly arrogant while stealing signs, the practice is prevalent across the league. That is why MLB tried to sweep it under the rug, and it’s the reason comments like the ones CC Sabathia made this week may end up looking bad down the road.