A fifth Twins player has tested positive for the coronavirus, but this infection apparently took place in Minnesota.
Wilfredo Tovar, a nonroster infielder invited to camp as part of the team’s taxi squad in St. Paul, was cleared to take part in workouts with a negative test upon arrival in Minnesota, but a subsequent test last week — the Twins’ 59 players and on-field staff members are tested by MLB every other day — came back positive, Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said Sunday.
Tovar, a 28-year-old Venezuelan with 40 major league games with the Mets and Angels, has been quarantined, and contact tracing was undertaken to make sure no other player was infected. All tests were negative, Falvey said.
Tovar has shown no symptoms of the virus, Falvey said, and the team has found no connection to another carrier of the virus. “It’s possible [Tovar] was positive upon arriving in St. Paul” and received a false negative, Falvey said.
Tovar is the fifth player to miss Twins camp because of COVID-19, the third minor leaguer. Infielder Nick Gordon and righthander Edwar Colina tested positive in Florida before reporting to camp and have yet to travel to Minnesota. First baseman Miguel Sano and utility player Willians Astudillo tested positive upon arrival and remain in quarantine.
Colina has tested negative in back-to-back tests now and has been cleared to return to action, Falvey said, but the team so far has kept him at their offseason base in Fort Myers, Fla. “We want to make sure he’s building up a little bit. Get [him] to full strength before we make the decision to fly him up here,” Falvey said of the 23-year-old prospect.
The other three Twins have not yet been cleared to return.
Neither Sano nor Astudillo has shown symptoms during their quarantine, which has now lasted 10 days, and Falvey said both are “feeling good.” Does he worry that their teammates, seeing no serious illness resulting from the virus, may be less inclined to follow all of baseball’s protocols for avoiding infection?
No, Falvey said, because it’s still “eye-opening for guys that it could happen, that it could happen to someone close to them pretty easily.”
Besides, not every case is the same, and the quarantine is a responsibility that can’t be avoided. “Players understand that it has a significant impact, even an asymptomatic positive. It impacts your season, potentially your career, as a result,” Falvey said. “You may be down for an extended period. In the case of Miguel and Willians, they are frustrated. They want to get back on the field. I don’t think anyone in this clubhouse right now wants to go through that same experience.”
• The Twins plan to hold another “dress rehearsal” intrasquad game this week, and among other wrinkles, it will include piped-in crowd noise to simulate a regular-season atmosphere, Falvey said: “Just some things that Major League Baseball is testing.” The league wants to “see how it feels, see the feedback from players, from staff and everybody.”
• Sean Poppen and Jhoulys Chacin worked four innings apiece during Sunday’s intrasquad game, and neither gave up a run. Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Taylor Rogers, Trevor May and Matt Wisler also pitched an inning, with May giving up an upper-deck home run to Mitch Garver, a blast so long, Garver didn’t even run the bases. That was in direct contrast to the day’s other highlight: an opposite-field shot off Poppen by Josh Donaldson, who practiced his trot around the bases while several teammates loudly informed him: “Foul ball!”