The Red Sox and Chaim Bloom have found themselves in the midst of a COVID-19 breakout, where seven players and three staff members have tested positive for the virus. Boston’s president of baseball operations, Bloom, met with the media Wednesday to discuss the matter.
“I wish everybody in our organization was vaccinated,” Bloom said. “And for that matter, everybody period who is eligible. I’m a strong proponent of vaccination. So is our organization. Every person in this organization that isn’t vaccinated, it pains me, when you know the delta variant is a different animal. Even against the delta variant, data still suggests that vaccination still helps. And that’s why we are strong proponents of it. ”
“At the same time, even though that’s true in the aggregate, in terms of this specific situations we have a lot of breakthrough infections,” added Bloom, who met with the media Wednesday. “There’s no real way to know if it would have been different if we had a higher vaccination rate or not. In this case, I don’t know if that’s knowable and it doesn’t seem that helpful to play the what-if game.”
The Sox are just one of six teams in the majors who haven’t reached the 85% vaccination threshold as a team, and have been highly criticized because of it.
“I think that’s gonna have to be a conversation in the industry that we step back and have,” said Bloom, who is nearing his second anniversary with the club. “Obviously there’s a lot of different levels to that conversation, including the rights of our players, and what that should mean and certainly it’s a much bigger conversation than I think we can have midstream. Obviously, the vaccines weren’t available (at the beginning of) this year so it wasn’t even something that any team could factor in if they wanted to in the winter. I think going forward it’ll be a topic for the whole industry.”
Kiké Hernandez, Christian Arroyo, Martin Perez, Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, Xander Bogaerts, and Yairo Munoz are the seven players who have tested positive. Josh Taylor was listed as a close contact and joined the other seven on the COVID-19 related injured list. Two coaches
“Major League Baseball has I think done their best to basically listen to the science on this,” Bloom said. “There are a lot of health experts involved and they do talk to the clubs whenever something happens to the club, like this — where it’s really about trying to let people perform and do what they’re paid to do as long as we’re mitigating risk appropriately.
“It’s going to be individual,” added Bloom. “Obviously, if somebody is vaccinated they should pose lesser risk — they should on average get through the virus more quickly and more easily than somebody who is not vaccinated. But that’s not gonna be true in every case, so I think it’s still important to look case by case. In our discussions with them and the way they’ve handled it with other clubs and the way they anticipate handling it with our guys, the facts of each individual case are going to matter a lot and I think they should.”
Because of the outbreak, Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox have found themselves scrambling with roster moves.
Boston will benefit from the roster being expanded to 28 players. While it may not be filled with the greater parts of the lineup, it still provides needed depth for a struggling ball club.
They made a series of roster moves after sending Bogaerts and Munoz to the COVID IL — they selected Jack Lopez and John Schreiber from Triple-A Worcester while activated Ryan Brasier and Danny Santana off the injured list.
“A lot of it’s a medical conversation and it shouldn’t be up to just how somebody feels,” said Bloom. “Obviously we need to make sure we’re doing the appropriate thing in the opinion of experts and that their is some science behind what we’re doing. Like I said, in our conversations with baseball, that is a factor. The individual circumstances, to a point do impact how we handle these cases.”
Boston, after Wednesday’s win, is now 3-3 on the road trip despite the outbreak after the series victory over the Cleveland Indians.
“Every day we have a game, and we’ve had a game every day, we bring the group together,” explained Bloom. “That obviously is going to create more risk than if everybody were kept apart. We understand it’s what we have to do, and so we’re trying to do it as safely as possible.”
Boston has taken noticeable precautions since the outbreak. They now hold their offensive meeting outside, like they did all of 2020. They likely do with the pitching staff as well.
Red Sox holding their hitters meeting “outside” as opposed to a room on the clubhouse. Similar to protocols last year. pic.twitter.com/AJxbBqiZPX
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) September 1, 2021
“Obviously some of it, we’ve had to react to the different circumstances,” Chaim Bloom said. “Where we are, when the game is, whether theirs travel, but as far as testing is concerned, we have done a lot of testing — both rapid and PCR.”
“We’ve tried to lay on as much testing as possible just to give us the best chance to catch people who may be positive so that we can stop this thing in its tracks,” he continued. “Beyond that, we’ve tried to emphasize diligence when we are indoors, in terms of distancing, masking, adjusting report times, adjusting the circumstances in which people are coming to the ballpark, buses everything. It’s similar to what we’ve tried to do all along but obviously when you know you have the virus in your group you have to take extra precautions.”
(Photo of Chaim Bloom by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)