SEATTLE -- The Mariners will make vaccines available to all personnel in Tier 1, which includes players, after Tuesday afternoon’s game against the Dodgers at T-Mobile Park. Seattle players first became eligible to receive the shot in Washington state last Thursday.
The team is off on Wednesday, which would allow for recovery from possible side effects, then it begins a four-game series in Boston beginning Thursday.
“It's big day for us tomorrow,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “A big series ahead here with the Dodgers, but after the game, hopefully our guys will make a decision that they're comfortable with and then we'll go forward from there.”
Clubs were informed on March 29 that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to relax certain health and safety protocols contained in the 2021 Operations Manual for fully vaccinated Tier 1 individuals and for clubs where 85 percent of their Tier 1 individuals are fully vaccinated. As part of that memo, players and staff have been encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.
Servais said that word around the league is that roughly 10 teams have reached 85 percent or will soon. Based on early polling among Mariners players who have said they plan to receive the vaccine, Servais said: “I’m a little concerned. I was hoping it would be a little closer to 85 percent.”
According to MLB’s health and safety protocols, even if players don’t test positive and don’t show symptoms, they could be sidelined due to a mandatory seven-day quarantine period if they’ve been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
That was reportedly the case with the Astros over the weekend, when Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, among others, were sidelined. Also, the Twins’ series against the Angels was postponed due to COVID concerns among Minnesota’s roster. And the Phillies had to make multiple COVID-related roster moves on Monday.
“They’re losing players that are not testing positive,” said Servais, who has spoken with club personnel from each of those three teams in recent days. “So if you have one positive test, and you are in close proximity to that player, that teammate, anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, you now have lost seven to 10 days. You are out. So it's not just, ‘Oh, I'm not going to get it.’ It's, ‘Are you close to anybody that could get it or is testing positive?’ And if that's the case, then you are taken out of action. And that's what's happening to different teams.”
He also outlined the competitive advantages of reaching 85 percent.
“When you get to that number, or if you are completely vaccinated, and you're sitting next to somebody in the clubhouse or in the dugout and that person tests positive, you're not pulled out of play, because you've had the vaccine,” Servais said. “So it's more than just getting a positive test yourself. It's the people around you and doing the right thing for your teammates and keeping the ball rolling as far as this season goes with our team. So it’s a very important decision that guys have got to make.”
Tuesday won’t be the only time that Mariners personnel will have the chance to receive the vaccine -- it’s just the first.
Lewis off IL
Kyle Lewis was activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, and the club optioned outfielder Braden Bishop to the alternate training site.
Lewis played roughly five to six innings and took three or four at-bats early Monday morning at T-Mobile Park in a simulated environment with the alternate training site roster and felt fine. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year suffered the deep bone bruise in his right knee in a March 22 Cactus League game against the Dodgers.
Injury updates: Margevicius, Long, Fraley, Muñoz
• Left-hander Nick Margevicius, who exited with arm fatigue after his 77th pitch during the fifth inning on Sunday against the Astros, played catch on Monday. Servais reiterated that the pitcher “tested out fine.” Margevicius' next turn in the rotation would be on Sunday in Boston. The off-day on Wednesday could allow for some flexibility to shuffle the staff, though Servais would prefer not to do that.
• Second baseman Shed Long Jr. has not returned to full baseball activity since being shut down near the end of Spring Training due to lingering effects from his surgically repaired right shin. He remains in Arizona and is taking regular batting practice, but he’s not yet reached the point where he can run and stop at 100 percent, Servais said.
“I think the thing that's bothered Shed a little bit is not so much getting up to running speed. But the slowing down and stopping and big-time changing directions and things like that is where he's felt it,” Servais said.
• Outfielder Jake Fraley is “still a little ways away” from picking up baseball activities, per Servais. Fraley went on the 10-day IL with a left hamstring strain on April 7, and the club initially thought his recovery would be a matter of three to four weeks.
• Reliever Andrés Muñoz has not yet begun throwing after being shut down due to a setback roughly six weeks ago from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in March 2020. The Mariners were hopeful that the 105-mph flamethrower would be a big part of their bullpen by June, but that timeline could be in doubt.