With vaccine rollouts coming at a faster pace than ever and teams across sports starting to allow fans back into the building, it has begun to feel like we are moving into a post-COVID world. It’s important to remember we are not yet there, and the Red Sox got a reminder of that on Saturday. We learned Saturday morning that Matt Barnes has tested positive for COVID and will have to be away from the team for about 10 days.
This is still very much a developing situation in Red Sox camp and contract tracing is still taking place to see who is and is not available for the team right now. We do know that Matt Andriese, who was scheduled to get the start in Saturday’s game against Pirates, will not be available.
The good news here off the top is that Barnes is not feeling any symptoms right now. It goes without saying we all hope that remains the case, and his health is clearly more important than how it affects the team.
#RedSox manager Alex Cora says P Matt Barnes has tested positive for #COVID19 - Barnes is asymptomatic but could be away for up to 10 days. Matt Andriese is among the close contacts/contact tracing so he and others are affected. Andriese won’t start today. @wbz #wbz— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) March 27, 2021
There is still a whole lot up in the air right now in terms of that effect on the roster, though. As Alex Cora noted at this press conference, the team is still taking rapid tests and trying to determine who needs to stay away from camp for the time being. The Red Sox manager said “it’s not the best morning” for them.
What we do know right now is that Barnes will be out for the start of the season. Hopefully he stays asymptomatic and can be back early in the season. If he’s good to go after the 10 days, that would put him on track to return at least by the third series of the year in Baltimore, if not in the second series against the Rays.
In his absence, Adam Ottavino now looks to be getting the clear nod for the closer role, assuming he’s not impacted by the contract tracing. And then as far as the roster goes, this would likely mean Colten Brewer gets the nod for the final spot in the bullpen to start the year. Kevin McCarthy could also re-enter the picture as well after being optioned just a couple of days ago, particularly with Barnes’s placement on the COVID list opening up a 40-man spot.
In the shorter term, the Red Sox need to figure out their pitching plans for the final few games of spring as well. For Saturday, the game has been changed to a seven-inning contest to accommodate the Red Sox pitching staff.
But none of that is entirely clear at this moment because nothing is all that clear for now. We’ll be sure to keep this story update when more news comes.