BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Red Sox on Monday took a major step toward better days, with a group of players receiving their first vaccination against COVID-19 following the team’s win over the Chicago White Sox.

Fenway Park had served as a mass vaccination site for many Massachusetts residents in the months leading up to the season, but on Monday, it was the Red Sox’ opportunity to receive injections from the staff of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The Red Sox shared photos of Christian Vazquez, Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Monday’s starter Nathan Eovaldi taking shots in their left arms. (All four are righties.)

Manager Alex Cora told the media prior to Monday’s 11:10 a.m. first pitch that a group of players was scheduled to get the first shot postgame, with another group scheduled for Wednesday. Major League Baseball has incentivized players and tier 1 staff to get vaccinated, as once 85 percent of the tier 1 players and staff receive the vaccine, many of the strict COVID-19 protocols in place will be relaxed.

“We actually had a conversation a few days ago. Like I said, first thing’s first, it’s a personal decision. Today [Monday] there are some guys that are going to get vaccinated. I can’t tell you how many, but there’s a lot of guys. There’s a group of guys that are getting vaccinated,” Cora said. “There’s a group today. I know because I’m getting my second one on Wednesday, there’s another group on Wednesday.”

Cora expressed optimism on the team reaching that 85 percent threshold.

“I’m confident. Yeah, I’m confident,” Cora said. “Like I said, it’s a hard one, because you go through the details, you talk about it, you explain it. You know, we had doctors explain the whole thing. But at the end, it’s what you want to do. Like I told them, it was my choice, I decided that I wanted to do it. And I did it. And that’s the way we gotta see it. Obviously — and this is out of baseball — I did it because I want to protect not only myself but the people around me, right? So I’ve been open about it and I’ve been having conversations with some of them. Obviously we’re doing it for the right reasons. Sometimes people get caught up in the whole baseball side of it. But this is more than baseball. So hopefully the decision they make is the right one for them and their families, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

CBSBoston.com Staff