Thaiss joins camp after recovery from COVID

July 16th, 2020

ANAHEIM -- Angels infielder said Thursday he tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-June and was fortunately asymptomatic, but it’s the reason why he was late to Summer Camp.

Thaiss is the second Angels player to confirm having tested positive for COVID-19, joining left-hander Patrick Sandoval, who also tested positive in June and was a late arrival to camp. Thaiss was exposed to someone who had the coronavirus while working out in Arizona and began self-isolation on June 14 before finding out he tested positive on June 17. It took nearly 30 days for Thaiss to record two negative tests at least 24 hours apart, which kept him from arriving to camp on time. He was cleared on Sunday and was in camp on Monday.

“I was asymptomatic the whole time, so I was very lucky,” Thaiss said. “Very thankful that I was healthy, but at the same time, it's also a little frustrating when you know you feel perfectly fine. But for me personally, it took me 20-something days of testing to test negative, and I was isolated close to 28 or 29 days.”

Thaiss remains in line to be the club’s backup behind starting first baseman Albert Pujols, and he is trying his best to get ready for the season as quickly as possible. Thaiss was limited to taking dry swings while in quarantine, but the Angels have been trying to get him as many at-bats as possible during intrasquad games and batting practice.

“It's kind of tough,” Thaiss said. “You're not really supposed to go out or anything, so I did a lot of dry swings in the mirror, which I guess didn't really prepare me for the blisters I was going to get when I came back. But as far as what I could do, I was kind of limited to what I had available in my apartment.”

Thaiss believes he still has enough time to get ready before Opening Day in Oakland on July 24. He said he had only one day of live batting practice before playing in the Dominican Winter League last year, so he has some experience getting ready in a hurry. He also credited hitting coaches Jeremy Reed, Paul Sorrento and John Mallee for helping him get back to speed offensively.

“I feel ready to go,” Thaiss said. “I was lucky enough to get nine or 10 at-bats the other day. But Jeremy Reed and, you know, Paulie, and Males, they're doing a great job with me and getting me in cages to get me at-bats. I'm feeling good, feeling ready and excited to get going.”

Thaiss, 25, increased his versatility last year, getting experience at third base in addition to first base. But with the addition of Anthony Rendon to the Angels' roster, Thaiss is expected to mostly serve as the backup to Pujols at first. But Thaiss believes his ability to play multiple positions will help him in the future.

“I think being as versatile as possible is best in today's game,” Thaiss said. “I mean, you look at the Swiss Army Knife of David Fletcher -- and I can't play nearly as many as positions as he can -- but the more positions you play, the more that you know you're able to get out on the field. It’s the best-case scenario.”