MESA, Ariz. – Right-hander Pedro Strop is away from the Cubs after violating COVID-19 protocols, according to a source. Strop will now have to isolate from the team before he is allowed to resume baseball activities at the team’s complex.
Strop was tagged in a post with Cleveland outfielder Franmil Reyes and others, who is also away from the team due to violating protocols, dining indoors at a restaurant. The post has since been deleted.
“To be honest with you, it’s a good reminder that we need to continue to follow protocols. It’s easy to get into this environment and relax,” manager David Ross said. “We did such a good job last year following the protocols. It’s just a reminder – a reminder for him, for us.
“We’ll make an announcement again tomorrow to the guys when they’re all here together. We’ve got to continue to stay diligent. It’s real and we got to follow protocols.”
According to the joint MLB and MLBPA guidelines, players may not attend indoor gatherings of 10 or more people, indoor restaurants, bars and lounges, fitness and wellness centers, entertainment venues, gaming venues (i.e., casinos) or any other activity that is prohibited by state or local government.
On Wednesday, MLB adjusted COVID-19 protocols to allow players to take part in outdoor dining for the first time since the protocols were put in place last season.
“It’s unfortunate,” starter Jake Arrieta said. “I think [we] gotta take it upon ourselves to continue to be diligent with this, follow the protocols. Everyone understands that it is tough to be in the situation that we that we’re in, but there’s not much we can do about it. The most important thing is to keep everybody safe, make sure that we don’t have to put guys on the COVID list to where they miss time, or there are setbacks where they can’t get ready for the season.”
The Cubs didn’t have a COVID-19 protocol violation last season and were one of just eight teams who didn’t have a single player test positive for the virus during the season. Left-hander Kyle Ryan was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier this spring.
It’s still unclear at this point how long Strop will be required to isolate from the team, but he will likely have to produce a negative test before returning to camp. The Cubs have begun contact tracing and the team should have an idea of if anybody was around Strop since the violation in the coming days.
Strop is unlikely to receive any further punishment from the Cubs outside of the league-mandated isolation. For a player in camp as a non-roster invite, that could be the difference in making a roster and looking for work elsewhere.
“I think it’s a setback,” Ross said. “I don’t think there’s from what I understand [any further punishment]. It’s just, you’re gonna have to sit out which is almost punishment enough for a guy who’s trying to make a team, right? That’s a big deal.
“I talked to him late last night when I found out the news and he’s pretty disappointed, but I think he understands.”
Major League Baseball is entering its second season since the COVID-19 pandemic. After completing last year’s abbreviated season, getting back to a full, 162-game season will take even more discipline and vigilance from teams and players.
The recent incident comes the same week several teams around MLB announced fans will be re-introducing fans into ballparks for Opening Day. The Cubs and the city of Chicago have not yet decided if fans will be allowed to come to Wrigley Field in a limited capacity.