CHICAGO -- Following a 6-0 victory over the Royals in Thursday’s home opener, 90 percent of the White Sox traveling party received Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The team released a Sunday morning statement detailing optional vaccines being provided to its coaches, players and clubhouse staff. General manager Rick Hahn also spoke about the process prior to Sunday’s series finale.
“We were all able to celebrate Lance Lynn’s dominance at the home opener by following that day up with doing our part to help keep our clubhouse and our community healthy,” said Hahn via Zoom. “Thanks go out to the city of Chicago, the city of Chicago public health department and our partners at Rush University Medical Center for not only making the vaccines available to our group but also helping administer them despite having to sit through an extra two-hour rain delay that none of us anticipated that day.
“It's a great message to the community, and we think it's a great message to each other about being a good teammate. There's obviously individual benefits to anyone -- players included, staff included -- who gets vaccinated, even individual benefits under the protocols that we're all working under at this point. But it goes beyond what it does for the individual and goes to protecting each other and protecting the community around us. And the level of buy-in we had in our clubhouse was remarkable and something that everyone down there should be very, very proud of.”
Clubs were informed just before Opening Day 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 were again strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible. Hahn explained that 85 percent applies to all Tier 1 employees in Chicago and at the alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill.
“At this point, we have not yet been able to offer vaccines to all of our players and staff at Schaumburg,” Hahn said. “We were able to get a good number of them but not all of them. As a result, we are not yet as an organization over the 85% number. However, as I mentioned, we are well over 90% of the traveling party, that group that is in Chicago with us currently, and that group that will head on out to Boston and Cleveland later this week.”
“You want to have the ability to do different things,” said White Sox infielder Danny Mendick, who was one of the players who received the vaccine. “Obviously we are still living in a world where there are protocols and different things like that. So, yeah, I think down the road it’s going to be a lot nicer. We can take the focus off some of the protocols and different things that go on and kind of just go about business and go about winning baseball games.”
According to Hahn, the organization also is working to get something set up for the White Sox Minor League staff and players in Arizona.
Mendick ready for anything
Mendick has followed a team-directed approach to maintain his playing rhythm despite not starting every day and moving around the infield from position to position.
“My goal is to help the White Sox win baseball games,” Mendick said. “Anyway I can do that. Staying confident and just knowing that I might not play every single day but when I’m in there, when I’m slated to play, I’m going to go out there and give it my very best. I want to win.”
Third to first
• Adam Engel, sidelined by a right hamstring strain, is projected for a return during the team’s next homestand from April 22 to May 2, per Hahn.
• The White Sox had a plan set up with Zack Collins catching Dylan Cease and Yasmani Grandal behind the plate again for Carlos Rodón. Even with Saturday’s postponement and an extra day off, manager Tony La Russa stuck with that plan Sunday. La Russa said Grandal will catch the majority of the upcoming four-game series vs. Cleveland.
They said it
“I’ll tell you what, he’s awesome. His knowledge of the game, just everything that goes on, he doesn’t make a move without thinking about it. He’s three innings ahead of the actual inning we are in. It’s pretty cool to watch.” -- Mendick, on La Russa.