The positive tests raise at least some question whether Keller and O'Hearn will be ready by Opening Day, July 24 at Cleveland. Both will be quarantined until they can register consecutive negative COVID-19 tests, at which point they can rejoin the team at Kauffman Stadium.
“We’re hopeful they both will be ready by Opening Day,” general manager Dayton Moore told MLB.com. “It’s a little more problematic for a starting pitcher who needs to get stretched out, but they’ll get their work in, in the meantime. They’re asymptomatic, so it’s more of an issue of getting them in baseball shape to be ready by Opening Day.”
Keller was possibly in position to be the Opening Day starter. Manager Mike Matheny hinted recently that his OD starter likely would be either Keller or Danny Duffy.
Said Keller in a statement:
“Of course I was devastated when I heard the news from [trainer] Nick Kenney that I had two positive tests. I was sent home [Monday] and was hoping the first test was a false positive, but I got the word today that the second test also came back positive and I have to go into isolation.
“I am experiencing minor symptoms that remind me more of an allergy attack. Other than that I feel great and have no other symptoms, including no cough or fever. I’m going to follow the directions from our training staff and hope to be back working out with the club as soon as possible. I would encourage everyone to stay safe.”
O’Hearn is coming off a monster Spring Training in which he hit five home runs with an OPS of 1.252. He is in a battle with Ryan McBroom for the starting first-base job, though Matheny and his staff have considered a soft platoon at the position as well.
McBroom had a big spring as well, hitting three home runs with a 1.026 OPS.
O’Hearn released a statement:
“Obviously I was shocked when I got the news that my test was positive. I am asymptomatic and feel fine physically. It’s been a really tough summer waiting for the season to start and to have a setback like this, albeit hopefully a brief one, just makes me that much hungrier. Though I have to be in quarantine, I plan to continue working out as much as possible and taking direction from our medical team until the time comes that I’m cleared to rejoin my teammates. If this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone, so it really is important for everybody to pay attention to their surroundings and don’t assume that you’re not vulnerable, because everyone is.”
Keller and O’Hearn join All-Star catcher Salvador Perez as known Royals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Perez, who is also asymptomatic, told reporters on Saturday that he tested positive; he may be tested again sometime this week.