NY's Chapman tests positive with mild symptoms

July 11th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Yankees closer will not be with the team “for the foreseeable future” after testing positive for COVID-19, manager Aaron Boone said on Saturday.

Boone said that the six-time All-Star is experiencing “mild symptoms but overall is doing well.” The 32-year-old Chapman will have to receive two negative tests over a 24-hour period before he can rejoin the Yankees.

Chapman has been working out at Yankee Stadium since Sunday, having tossed twice in the bullpen following a delayed arrival. He had not yet participated in the club’s intrasquad games, and Boone said that he does not believe that the situation will lead to more positive tests on the roster.

“We’re following all protocols. We have not had any other positive tests,” Boone said. “We’ve adhered to all the contact tracing, so we feel like we've handled it and are handling it. This is something that, even moving forward, a positive test is probably going to come our way. It's about doing all the things that hopefully as a whole keep us safe and healthy. But right now, we feel like we're doing a good job in here of managing it.”

Chapman is the third Yankees player to test positive for COVID-19 this month. Infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-hander Luis Cessa were flagged as having the coronavirus prior to Summer Camp and are not in the New York area. LeMahieu is said to be asymptomatic, while Cessa is showing mild symptoms, according to Boone.

“It’s definitely tough, especially when it comes to a teammate of yours that just tested positive,” said outfielder Aaron Hicks. “It just proves how safe we've got to be within our little bubble that we're in right now and continue to make sure that everybody's doing what they need to do to stay negative. Hopefully he recovers from it fast and gets back to the team.”

In Chapman’s absence, Boone indicated that he would likely install left-hander Zack Britton as the Opening Day closer. Britton has recorded 145 saves over his nine-year career, though he has mostly worked in a setup role since joining the Yankees in July 2018, pitching to a 1.91 ERA in 66 appearances last season.

“Britton has been an elite closer in this game for a long time, and he’s still a great pitcher, so he naturally could fill that role,” Boone said. “It's easy to put him in that, but with our team and with our bullpen and our pitchers, we feel confident in a lot of guys. Britt would be a natural guy if Chappy wasn't back at that point.”

Chapman, who logged a 2.21 ERA and 37 saves in 60 appearances last season, had been expected to head a bullpen that also projects to feature right-handers Chad Green, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino in significant roles.

“This virus does not discriminate; it can get to anyone at any point,” Boone said. “It's obviously just another reminder that we have to be vigilant as far as wearing our masks when possible, the distance, the decisions we're making away from the field as best we can stay out of harm's way. Not that anyone that has been in here hasn't done that, including Chappy, but it's just important that you know that it can strike at any time.”