‘Virtually entire White Sox traveling party’ receives COVID-19 vaccine

General manager Rick Hahn said more than 90% of the traveling party was vaccinated after the home opener Thursday.

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Following Thursday’s home opener, most of the White Sox received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


Thursday was a pretty good day for the White Sox.

With the team playing in front of home fans for the first time since 2019, Lance Lynn threw a complete-game shutout and Yermin Mercedes continued his journey to becoming a cult hero by blasting a 485-foot home run.

And those might not be the only reasons the Sox will view that day so fondly.

Before their 4-3, 10-inning loss Sunday to the Royals, the Sox announced that ‘‘virtually the entire White Sox traveling party’’ received a COVID-19 vaccine after the home opener Thursday. The optional vaccines were the one-time Johnson & Johnson version and were administered at the ballpark.

General manager Rick Hahn said more than 90% of the traveling party was vaccinated. At this point, the Sox haven’t reached the 85% threshold because they haven’t been able to offer vaccines to all of their players and staff at their alternate site in Schaumburg. The 85% mark is important because when a team reaches it, Major League Baseball will relax safety protocols for that club.

Hahn, however, said he anticipates surpassing that level when the Sox get more access to vaccines.

‘‘We are thrilled with where we are at,’’ said Hahn, who thanked the city of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center.

Hahn and manager Tony La Russa sounded especially happy about how much the team bought in to getting vaccinated. While acknowledging the obvious individual benefits, Hahn said it goes beyond that. He said it sends a great message to the community and a great message about being a good teammate.

La Russa, who received a vaccine before the start of spring training, didn’t go player-to-player talking about the vaccines, leaving it instead to medical professionals to inform the team.

‘‘It’s an independent decision times 26 or 40, but I do know that they got a lot of information,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘It’s a big issue. It’s not something that you decide on lightly. But there’s a lot of community in what the final outcome was, which is good for us.’’

Infielder Danny Mendick said he was one of the players who was vaccinated. He said he did it for the team, his family and everybody around him.

Mendick admitted he felt ‘‘a little crummy’’ Friday after getting inoculated, but that seemed a small price to pay for peace of mind. The Sox scheduled the vaccinations around their off-day Friday and had another day to recover when their game Saturday was postponed because of rain.

‘‘I think it’s pretty cool to see that all the guys pretty much went in there and got the vaccine for everybody else, you know what I mean?’’ Mendick said. ‘‘It helps for families, for road trips and different things like that. It shows that everyone has bought in. We’ve got a 162-game season, so it’s great to get it started like this.’’

The news doesn’t mean the Sox are completely free of COVID-19 concerns. The pandemic is still a part of everybody’s lives and requires precautions. The inoculations, however, will lower Hahn’s worries about the coronavirus infiltrating the Sox’ clubhouse.

‘‘Quite frankly, one of the strong benefits of the participation [in] the vaccination program is that when my phone rings and it’s [athletic trainer] James Kruk on the other end, it’s more likely to be an actual baseball injury than it is something COVID-related,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘Having dealt all of last summer and spring this year with that risk, I would say that there’s actually a little bit of comfort spending our time talking about hamstrings instead of a pandemic.’’

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