The Phillies delayed Friday night’s game by 30 minutes after they placed three players -- including starting catcher Andrew Knapp -- on the COVID-19 injured list less than an hour before the originally scheduled first pitch.
The start of the game was delayed because of contact tracing after Knapp, Zach Eflin, and Luke Williams tested positive. All three players are fully vaccinated and considered “breakthrough cases.” Knapp was replaced behind the plate by J.T. Realmuto, who was originally scheduled to receive a day off.
All three players must remain on the list for 10 days since they tested positive. Girardi said one of the players had “a little bit of a sniffle” and reported his symptoms.
Vaccinated players are only tested if they show symptoms. The player’s positive test caused other players to be tested since they were deemed close contacts. The Phillies were testing “pretty much everybody,” Girardi said, before first pitch.
“It’s being responsible” Girardi said of the player telling the Phillies he didn’t feel well. “It’s ‘I don’t want to pass it on or give it to a loved one.’ So he got tested.”
The Phillies remain one of seven major-league teams that have not reached the 85% vaccination threshold needed to relax the league’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
Joe Girardi said the game was delayed just in case Realmuto tested positive since the Phillies would then not have a catcher as Rafael Marchan had not yet arrived from triple A.
“I thought the league did a really good job of handling that,” Girardi said. “We met in the umpire’s room. Arizona was very understanding.”
Before being placed on the COVID-19 list, Eflin was slated to return to the injured list after his right knee injury cost him to be scratched Thursday night from making his first start since July 16. Eflin underwent an MRI on Friday afternoon and the Phillies were awaiting the results of the imaging.
Eflin was activated off the injured list at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and scratched an hour later when his knee did not feel right. Girardi was asked Friday if this could be it for Eflin in 2021.
“I think you have to look at that, yeah,” the manager said.