By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has had several sleepless nights this week, as a COVID outbreak has ravaged his big league roster.READ MORE: Patriots-Jets Week 2 Predictions: Which Team Will Pick Up Its First Win Of Season?
“It’s gut-wrenching. How else can you react?” Bloom said Wednesday afternoon. “Every single one has been. We try to go to great lengths to keep these sorts of things from happening, and then to see what’s happening now, it’s really hard. This goes beyond baseball. We feel — and I certainly feel in the chair I sit in — a lot of responsibility to every single person in our traveling party and in our organization. And when our powers to prevent something like this from happening and from continuing to happen only go so far, that’s a bad feeling.”
Yairo Munoz — who was called up Friday when Enrique Hernandez and Christian Arroyo were placed on the COVID IL — became the seventh Red Sox player to test positive for the virus on Wednesday. A night earlier, Xander Bogaerts was pulled off the field in the second inning after one of his tests came back positive. Two coaches have also tested positive in recent days.
Though Bloom said “the majority” of those people who tested positive have received a vaccine, he nevertheless wishes that 100 percent of the organization was in that group. As it stands, the Red Sox are one of six MLB teams that have not reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold set forth by the league.
“I wish everybody in our organization were vaccinated, and for that matter, everybody period who’s eligible. I’m a strong proponent of vaccination, and so is our organization. So every person in this organization that isn’t vaccinated pains me,” Bloom said. “And we know that the Delta variant is a different animal. And even against the Delta variant, the data do suggest that vaccination still helps. That’s why we are strong proponents of it. And at the same time, even though that’s true in the aggregate, in terms of this specific situation, we have a lot of breakthrough infections. There’s no real way to know if it would’ve been different if we had a higher vaccination rate or not. In this case, I don’t know that that’s knowable, and it doesn’t seem that helpful to play the ‘what if?’ game.”
With vaccines becoming available to the general public after the regular season began, Bloom said the Red Sox did what they could in order to provide information and education to anyone who sought it. The team also had vaccinations available to players in Fenway Park after an early-season game, just steps from the clubhouse.
Despite the relatively low vaccination rate compared to other teams, Bloom said the Red Sox did as much as they believed to be possible to push for vaccinations.READ MORE: Revolution Battle Columbus Crew To 1-1 Draw
“I’ve asked myself that a lot throughout the year, and certainly through some sleepless nights the last few days,” Bloom said. “Obviously if we had pinpointed it, we would’ve done it. The education process has been multi-faceted, it’s been ongoing. We’ve tried different things to address people’s concerns, to educate people. And I do think those things that we did moved the needle. We do obviously have a lot of people in our organization and our roster, a large number of people who have received the vaccine. I’m sure we’re not perfect, nor do we pretend to be. But anything that we could think of that we thought would help, we’ve done.”
Though MLB has postponed some games for other teams during outbreaks, the Red Sox have had to play every day since Friday, when Hernandez tested positive and Arroyo was deemed a close contact. Bloom said there’s been no word from MLB about any potential postponements for Boston.
“No, there hasn’t been any word on that,” Bloom said. “It’s not productive for us to spend time worrying about that. It’s just not our call. … We’re expecting to play.”
As for those who’ve tested positive, Bloom couldn’t give specific updates.
“It’s hit some people harder than others. Some of those who were hit hard early on are doing better. Some are still going through it. Overall we’re optimistic that everybody’s gonna pull through here without long-term concerns, but obviously we don’t know that for sure until everybody’s through it,” Bloom said. “The levels of the symptoms have varied.”
Without Matt Barnes, Martin Perez and Hirokazu Sawamura in the bullpen, and without Hernandez, Arroyo and Bogaerts in the field and in the lineup, the Red Sox are beyond shorthanded as they try to salvage something from their current series in Tampa. The Red Sox dropped the first two games of the four-game set, after losing Sunday’s series finale in Cleveland.
While Bloom is certainly sympathetic to those who tested positive and for his shorthanded team, he said that with few options to do anything else, the team will have to trudge forward.MORE NEWS: Bogaerts, AL Wild Card-Leading Red Sox Top O's 9-3
“It’s possible. They’re human. We know we still have a job to do. The job is to show up every night and try to win a baseball game. That’s it at the end of the day,” Bloom said. “Nobody is going to cut us slack, nobody is going to feel sorry for us. That’s the bottom line. So be that as it may, still at the end of the day, we can’t make excuses. We’ve gotta go out there and try to win. This is adversity that we have to battle through. But you can see obviously, it was shocking to everybody when Bogey came out of the game last night. We might have had our worst inning of the season shortly after that. And so we saw that. We also saw by the end of the game, we had the tying run at the plate. So the one thing we’ve seen about this group since day one, there is no quit in this group. There has not been the whole time. Win or lose, it’s heartening to see that again last night. And we know that’s the job in front of us.”