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Boone: Yankees have 7 COVID positives on staff

The New York Yankees have confirmed seven COVID-19 positives on their coaching and support staff, manager Aaron Boone said before Wednesday night’s 1-0 win at the Tampa Bay Rays.

The new positives include pitching coach Matt Blake. The Yankees announced Tuesday that third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits had tested positive for COVID-19.

Six of the seven people who have tested positive are asymptomatic, Boone said. All seven people who tested positive have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Boone said a number of test results were pending.

“I think one of the things we’re seeing is that being vaccinated en masse like we are, we’re seeing the vaccinations also kind of blunt the effects of the virus,” Boone said. “I feel like in a lot of ways, because we’re vaccinated, we’re kind of good and able to deal with this. So there’s a little bit of a frustrating part there, in all the testing that we’re gonna do.”

In addition, shortstop Gleyber Torres, who also has been vaccinated, was held out of the lineup out of an “abundance of caution.” Tyler Wade replaced him at shortstop and went 1-for-3 at the plate.

“I know everybody is going to read into that, but hopefully it’s nothing,” Boone said of Torres pregame. “It’s more just getting all the information.”

Boone did not have an update on Torres after Wednesday’s game.

Starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, who struck out 12 in eight stellar innings to improve to 5-1, said that playing Wednesday was “a nice release” after all of the COVID-related issues the team has gone through this week.

“It’s the only thing we have to focus on, is playing,” Cole said. “We’ve got to focus on winning the game, so we take our minds off everything that’s happened over the past few days and get to take a break from it.”

The members of New York’s traveling party have been tested at least three times each since Tuesday.

In a statement, the New York State Department of Health said it has talked with Major League Baseball and the Yankees “to get a better understanding of where and when these coaches were vaccinated.”

“While there have been anecdotal reports of New Yorkers who have had a positive COVID test 14 or more days after receiving their last vaccine dose, DOH is investigating those cases along with the ones linked to the Yankees further to determine if they meet the formal CDC definition of vaccine breakthrough,” the statement said.

The Yankees on April 30 were able to relax MLB protocols after reaching an 85% vaccination rate among players and staff such as managers, coaches and athletic trainers.

Starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, when asked if the Yankees are experiencing COVID fatigue in the clubhouse, said the team has learned to “roll with the punches” and be willing to make adjustments.

“I think in an ideal world, we’d be past this,” he said. “For a little bit there, we thought we were past it with all the vaccines, and just the time we were removed from our vaccine, we’re past the two-week threshold. But if I’ve learned one thing in the past year, year-and-a-half, it’s just you have to be ready to roll with the punches, nothing’s guaranteed anymore.

“So we’ll mask back up, we’ll keep our distance, we’ll do whatever we have to do to get this season in. We were willing to make big adjustments to the year last year, and we’ll do whatever it takes now to keep this thing going.”

Both Boone and Rays manager Kevin Cash said the communication between the teams and MLB has been good.

“First of all, you hope they’re OK,” Cash said. “We’ve got some very intelligent people and the right doctors that are advising the right way to go about things.”

ESPN’s Marly Rivera and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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