BOSTON — With a chance to push their record to .500 in the last game before the All-Star break, the Phillies placed four players -- including Aaron Nola, Sunday’s scheduled starting pitcher -- on the COVID-19 restricted list, after third baseman Alec Bohm tested positive.
Nola, Bohm, and relievers Connor Brogdon and Bailey Falter were taken off the roster for the series finale here against the Boston Red Sox. The Phillies called up infielder Nick Maton and relievers Damon Jones, Mauricio Llovera, and Cristopher Sánchez from triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Bohm, who left Saturday’s game early, was asymptomatic as of Saturday night, according to manager Joe Girardi, who had not seen him Sunday. But because Bohm tested positive, MLB protocols stipulate that he must remain sidelined for at least 10 days until he receive multiple negative tests.
The other players were contact traced. Vaccinated players are no longer subject to contact tracing, according to MLB’s protocols. The Phillies learned Sunday morning that Nola would be unavailable to pitch and scrambled to make a plan before settling on reliever Brandon Kintzler as an opener.
“Hopefully he can get through the first four hitters and then there’s a chance we’ll go to Sanchez then,” said Girardi, who didn’t consider using All-Star starter Zack Wheeler on short rest.
The Phillies are among a few teams that has not gotten to the 85% threshold of vaccinated players and staff for MLB to relax COVID-19 protocols. The team has not mandated that players and staff get vaccinated. But club officials also have understood the possibility of a competitive disadvantage if the team doesn’t reach the 85% mark.
“I don’t think you can demand players do it. I think it’s a personal choice,” Girardi said. “You have to deal with it, that’s all. You’re going to have little things like this pop up probably more than teams that are vaccinated. You just pray that they’re either a false positive or the guys that are nearby don’t get it. That’s your prayer.
“But in the meantime, sometimes you have to lose players that don’t necessarily have it, and that’s the frustrating part.”
Frustrating enough for unvaccinated players and staff to end their resistance to getting the shot?
“I doubt it,” Girardi said. “Because I think it’s their beliefs. It’s OK. People’s beliefs are their beliefs. I would say [Bohm is] one less person that probably has a chance to get it the rest of the year.”
Unvaccinated players can be placed on the COVID-19 restricted list for a variety of reasons, including exposure to an infected person through contact tracing. Players and staff on teams that aren’t 85% vaccinated must wear Kinexon contact-tracing devices that Girardi said “look like dominoes.”
Players who exhibit common cold symptoms also be put on the list until they test negative for COVID-19.