Blue Jays’ Teoscar Hernandez tests positive for COVID-19

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo reveals that Teoscar Hernandez has tested positive for COVID-19.

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays will be without Teoscar Hernandez for at least 10 days after the Silver Slugger outfielder became symptomatic and tested positive for COVID-19.

Manager Charlie Montoyo revealed the news Tuesday, underlining the challenge of vaccinating fast enough to outpace the virus’ relentless spread.

“A lot of guys” on the team are getting shots, Montoyo added, and while the U.S. government paused usage of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Blue Jays are still facilitating access to the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots.

Using Johnson & Johnson had some appeal because it carried a shorter two-week window to full efficacy, as opposed to the five-week process for Pfizer and Moderna, which require three between shots and then two more weeks for total coverage.

Hernandez has been in isolation since Friday, after he had close contact to a positive case. The Blue Jays immediately began contact tracing, underwent extra testing before entering TD Ballpark on Saturday and have been tested multiple times since.

Thus far, Hernandez has been their only case.

“So far, so good,” said Montoyo.

Ace Hyun-Jin Ryu, among the Blue Jays players to have received a vaccine, said Hernandez’s positive was a reminder that “it’s something that we all have to be cautious about, whether at their own house, the field or even outside, to make sure that we wear a mask at all times.”

“You just have to make sure that you take care of your own body, regardless of what the situation is,” he added in comments interpreted by J.S. Park. “I believe that our players and everyone on our staff have been wearing their masks and following the protocols properly, so I feel pretty safe about this.”

Major League Baseball’s protocol for covered individuals that test positive for COVID-19 requires a minimum 10-day isolation, either from the date of the test in asymptomatic cases or from when symptoms first appear for symptomatic individuals.

As a symptomatic case, before Hernandez can return he will need to go at least 24 hours without a fever, show improvements in all his symptoms, receive a cardiac evaluation, get the approval of both team doctors and the Joint COVID-19 Health & Safety Committee and satisfy all local health standards.

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

Only once Hernandez clears those bars can he re-enter the club’s facilities, meaning in the best-case scenario, he will have essentially been shut down for at least two weeks, surely pushing back a return to the lineup.

Reinforcements aren’t imminent, as Montoyo revealed that star outfielder George Springer, out with right quad tightness, won’t join the team for an upcoming road trip that begins Thursday in Kansas City against the Royals.

Springer took batting practice and some fungo drills Tuesday and while he’s improving, “he’s not ready to play,” said Montoyo.

“The whole idea behind him staying back is going to the alternate site and get as many at-bats as he can get and keep going with rehab, because if he goes on the road, we won’t be able to provide that for him,” he added.  “He did a lot today. He swung the bat and during BP he looked good. It’s all about the running now.”

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In other injury news, Montoyo said Nate Pearson (groin) is slated to throw an inning of live batting practice Wednesday while Thomas Hatch (elbow) threw a 20-pitch bullpen Tuesday, and is scheduled to do so again Wednesday. Reliever Tyler Chatwood (triceps) has started playing catch.

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