By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) – COVID-19 will force the Red Sox to be without an important piece of the bullpen for Opening Day.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced on Saturday that right-hander Matt Barnes has tested positive for the virus. Cora says Barnes is asymptomatic, but he has been ruled out for Boston’s season opener against the Baltimore Orioles on April 1 at Fenway Park.

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Barnes will have to quarantine for at least 10 days.

Due to contact tracing, the Red Sox scratched Matt Andriese from his scheduled spring training start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

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“The hope is that we’re going to be fine as a group and that it’s just one isolated incident. Let’s hope that’s the case,” Cora said. “But it’s a different mood, to be honest with you. It’s not a good feeling. But we’re trusting the process, trusting our medical staff, trusting the testing system.”

Coming into Spring Training, Barnes was seen as a candidate for being the Red Sox closer. He went 9-for-13 in save opportunities for Boston in 2020. Offseason acquisition Adam Ottavino will now likely handle ninth inning duties to start the year.

The former UConn star has posted a 26-21 record with a 4.08 ERA over his first seven seasons with the Red Sox. Barnes helped Boston on its way to a World Series championship in 2018 when he allowed just one run over 8.1 innings during the team’s playoff run.

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He was taken 19th overall by Boston in the 2011 MLB Draft. Staff