The Yankees were allowed to return to baseball on Friday, but without two their best players. Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela, along with the backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, were placed on the Covid-19 injured list after testing positive for the coronavirus. All are expected to miss at least 10 days.
While many of the positive tests among Yankees players and staff this season have been so-called breakthrough cases, where a player who was vaccinated tested positive, the team said that was not the case for all of Friday’s positive tests, meaning at least one of the players was not vaccinated. But the Yankees did not identify which players were, or weren’t, vaccinated.
Judge, one of the most popular Yankee players, was at Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Denver, and was near many of the game’s biggest stars, igniting concern that the game’s best players may have been exposed. Five Red Sox All-Stars shared a clubhouse with Judge, but all five were active on Friday. The three position players among that group, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez, were all in Boston’s starting lineup.
Officials with other teams, in conjunction with Major League Baseball, have been following up with Judge’s close contacts at the All-Star festivities and have been conducting testing where appropriate. As of Friday afternoon, no other players outside of the six Yankees were placed on the Covid-19 list.
Manager Aaron Boone said that some of the Yankee players who tested positive were feeling symptoms, but did not characterize any as serious.
“No one has gotten really ill,” he said.
The series between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox was permitted to resume Friday night after Thursday’s game was postponed. The postponement had come after three Yankee pitchers — Nestor Cortes Jr., Jonathan Loaisiga and Wandy Peralta — were confirmed as positive for the virus, along with the three other suspected cases, which at that point had yet to be confirmed. After Friday’s round of testing, M.L.B. determined the series could go on and the postponed game would be made up on Aug. 17 as part of a doubleheader.
It was the eighth postponement because of concerns over the coronavirus within the first 2,964 games this season. Last year, 45 out of 900 games were postponed.
The Yankees have reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold, which allows for more relaxed protocols. Across baseball, more than 85 percent of Tier-1 personnel — meaning players, coaches and anyone in daily contact with them — have been vaccinated, according to M.L.B.
M.L.B. also conducted tests of players and other personnel at the All-Star Game, and the league said it did not record any positive tests.
For the Yankees, however, this is the second coronavirus outbreak in two months. In May, nine people, mostly coaches, tested positive. Gleyber Torres, the Yankees shortstop, also tested positive at the time but only missed seven games. But his case was unique because he tested both positive and negative on alternating days, leading M.L.B.’s experts to determine that he had such a mild case that the threat of him shedding the virus and spreading it was very low.
Boone indicated that was not the case with any of the six recent cases.
“I’m expecting them in most cases to be that 10 days, or 10 days plus,” he said.
Judge has 21 home runs, 13 doubles and a .901 on-base plus slugging percentage. Urshela has 11 home runs, 14 doubles and a .756 O.P.S. The Yankees, who trailed the Red Sox by eight games in the American League East heading into Friday’s game, also placed infielder Luke Voit on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to July 13, with left knee inflammation that originated with a bone bruise, Boone said.
The team called up Chris Gittens, Hoy Park, Greg Allen and the catcher Rob Brantly from the minor leagues.
“That’s our reality right now,” Boone said of the team playing short-handed against Boston without Judge and Urshela. “We have to go make the best of it. Those are two obviously great players, really important for what we do. We have to make do with what we have.”