CLEVELAND, Ohio — Indians pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Wednesday in Goodyear, Arizona. But before that happened, their ace Shane Bieber tested positive for the coronavirus and was put in quarantine.
Chris Antonetti, president of baseball operations, announced Thursday on a Zoom call with reporters that Bieber had tested positive.
“He has very, very mild symptoms,” said Antonetti. “In fact, they were barely noticeable and, like I said. he’s working through the protocols to return. We expect him to get back to the complex at some point within the next few days.”
Antonetti wouldn’t say when Bieber tested positive, but did say it happened when he was in Arizona during his workouts.
“What I’m permitted to share is that he did test positive,” said Antonetti. “He’s going through the return protocols and should be back in the complex in the next few days. And during that time he’s continued his preparation for spring training and has been able to do that. We’ve tried to support him remotely as best we can.
Under MLB’s 2021 health and safety protocols, an individual who tests positive has to isolate for 10 days. He must receive appropriate care and monitoring from the team’s medical staff, then be cleared by the Joint Committee (MLB-MLBPA) and the individual’s team physician, following a mandatory cardiac evaluation and a determination that the individual no longer presents a risk of infection to others.
Bieber was the unanimous pick for the AL Cy Young award last year. He was a Triple Crown winner, leading the big leagues in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
“You’re always concerned when you hear anybody you know of having COVID,” said pitching coach Carl Willis. “Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like he has major symptoms. He’s been able to continue to move, but we haven’t seen him or been able to instruct him. But in talking to him on a daily basis, we don’t feel it’s going to be a setback.
“Shane, as we all know, is diligent with his work. He was ready to go, along with everyone else, to come in and hit the ground running. We’ll be careful when he’s reintroduced to the group.”
Willis said Bieber still has to take a physical and go through the intake process to get into the Indians bubble in Goodyear.
“At this point we don’t think it’s going to be a huge setback,” said Willis. “But like anyone we just want Shane Bieber to be healthy.”
Antonetti said that besides Bieber three other pitchers, for various reasons, have yet to go through the intake testing process — newly signed Oliver Perez, Nick Sandlin and James Karinchak. The Indians had their first workout on Thursday. The first full squad workout will be Monday.
Perez signed a minor league deal with the Indians. They have 73 players in their player pool, two below the limit. He is the 15th non-roster player in camp.
New Indians face masks for sale: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Indians-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All MLB proceeds donated to charity.
More Indians coverage
Agreement reached with Oliver Perez on minor-league deal
On the return of Pérez, minor league baseball and big paydays: Podcast
Limited number of Cactus League fans allowed, tickets on sale Friday
Close the door: Cody Allen, franchise leader in saves, retires
How spring training in 2021 will look different from any other year: Podcast
4 questions the outfield competition must answer in spring training
Five on five: What could go right, what could go wrong this year
Handicapping spring bullpen and rotation battles: Podcast
Winter doldrums, baseball fans? Warm up with past spring training photos
Handicapping this spring’s positional battles: Podcast
A dozen questions about what is going on in the 2021 minor leagues
MLB has shaken, stirred and changed the landscape of minor league baseball
Why does the front office think the rebuild has a chance to work? Pluto
How about a six-man rotation for 2021? Hey, Hoynsie