Anthony Rizzo, who as a Cub said he chose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because he was “taking some more time to see the data,” tested positive for the coronavirus, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday.
Rizzo, a cancer survivor who is celebrating his 32nd birthday Sunday, was traded from the Cubs to the Yankees on July 29, providing an almost immediate lift to the Bronx Bombers. They have won eight of nine games since his acquisition, moving within 1 1/2 games of a playoff spot, and he’s hit three home runs with a .963 OPS in nine games with the Yankees.
Boone said on a call with reporters that Rizzo was experiencing light symptoms.
The positive test means Rizzo won’t participate in Thursday’s Field of Dreams Game against the White Sox.
A fan favorite in Chicago, where he made three All-Star teams and helped the Cubs to the 2016 World Series title, Rizzo came under scrutiny when he acknowledged in a radio interview that he had not received the vaccine.
“I love my teammates. I love this franchise, and I do everything I can to win here. But with this stuff, this is bigger than baseball,” he said in June. “This is a life decision. This isn’t a career decision right now.”
The Cubs are one of seven major league teams whose Tier 1 personnel have not received the COVID-19 vaccination, and it created the appearance of a divide on the team.
At the time, Kris Bryant, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, Nico Hoerner, Adbert Alzolay, Javy Baez, Kyle Hendricks and Craig Kimbrel acknowledged they’d been vaccinated, while Rizzo and outfielder Jason Heyward were among those who said they were not.
“We discussed it. If you want to call it ‘we argued about it,’ we did,” Baez said, according to NBC Sports Chicago. “But at the end of the day we … respect each other.”
Now, he will be out more than a week on a Yankees club that’s clawed back into both the AL East and wild-card races despite several COVID-19 issues throughout the season. Most recently, six players — including All-Star Aaron Judge — went on the COVID-19 list shortly after the All-Star break. Judge and pitcher Jonathan Loaisiga were among those refusing to acknowledge their vaccination status. Their July 15 game against was postponed for testing and contact tracing.
The Yankees are among the 23 MLB teams at least 85% vaccinated, allowing for relaxed protocols, but suffered a number of breakthrough positives. Most Yankees received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which has proved less effective than the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Boone said he did not know if Rizzo had been vaccinated since his June comments.
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