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Cubs aim to move forward with Kris Bryant cleared from MLB COVID-19 protocol

MLB’s tentative plan is for the Cardinals to resume play on Friday, when the Cubs head to St. Louis.

“Deep down, I didn’t really have much concern,” Kris Bryant said of entering the MLB COVID-19 protocol. “It just kind of caught me off guard, too. Just the whole process.”
“Deep down, I didn’t really have much concern,” Kris Bryant said of entering the MLB COVID-19 protocol. “It just kind of caught me off guard, too. Just the whole process.”
Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

In a world in which baseball tries to play through a global pandemic as teams battle outbreaks, it’s never wrong to be cautious. The Cubs and third baseman Kris Bryant experienced that firsthand.

Bryant was back in the lineup Monday against the Royals after missing the last two games. He had self-reported some coronavirus symptoms.

After being given a clean bill of health before the game, Bryant detailed his experience of being cleared through MLB’s COVID-19 protocol.

“It was a process,” Bryant said. “Just before the game the other day, I was just looking for some relief from a symptom that I had. I didn’t even think twice about it, but considering what is going on around the league and how serious this thing is, our team doctor thought it was appropriate to just be overly cautious with it. And that’s it.

“I went and did the nasal swab and a couple of saliva tests. Deep down, I didn’t really have much concern. It just kind of caught me off guard, too. Just the whole process.

‘‘But it’s a great thing that I went through it because if I did have [COVID-19], that’s how it starts. One person and it seems like half the team gets it. So I think it’s just really important to keep up with those protocols and really take it as seriously as we can.”

While Bryant’s symptoms turned out to be just a scare for the Cubs, it shines a brighter light on the importance of player accountability, which may ultimately save the season from being canceled. Then again, maybe not.

MLB announced in a press release that 13 Cardinals players and staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus in the league’s latest outbreak.

According to reports, Cardinals players didn’t follow league protocols before their positive tests, which may have led to the outbreak.

Marlins president Derek Jeter told reporters Monday that players had become relaxed on social-distancing and wearing masks.

“Some of our traveling party had a false sense of security and comfort,” Jeter said.

MLB is expected to increase its guidelines for teams when they’re on the road.

“As far as more rules, more restrictions, more guidelines, there’s definitely been talk about it,” said outfielder Ian Happ, who’s the Cubs’ MLBPA player rep.

“The latest that I’ve seen, the Cubs are exceeding what the current guidelines are and would be well within compliance with what future guidelines or restrictions would be.”

The Cardinals had their four-game series against the Tigers postponed and have had seven postponements because of the recent outbreak. MLB’s tentative plan is for the Cardinals to resume play on Friday, when the Cubs head to St. Louis.

Teams around baseball have looked to emulate the Cubs, who remain the only team in baseball without a positive COVID-19 test for a player. Accountability among players and staff as well as strict health and safety guidelines have a lot to do with it.

The Cubs also named director of team travel and clubhouse operations Vijay Tekchandani as their COVID compliance officer. He’ll be the point person on all coronavirus-related issues.

“Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] did a great job of thinking through what we would need,’’ Happ said. ‘‘The way that the entire staff has operated [has been great] — the way that they’ve been compliant and thought through everything from on-field to food, hotels, buses. You guys know Vijay is an absolute stud. So just everything from top to bottom has been super-professional. And I think that’s why we’re ahead on a lot of those things.”