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Matt Barnes, and those in contact tracing, cleared for immediate return

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The exact reasoning, well, it’s a little beyond me to be honest.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Well here’s a bit of a twist that nobody really saw coming. As the Red Sox have spent the last few days scrambling to figure out their pitching staff over the final week of spring and into the early part of the regular season after Matt Barnes tested positive for COVID and a handful of others entered contract tracing, all of that was suddenly reversed. As first reported by Joel Sherman, Barnes and all others involved have been cleared to return immediately.

If you’re wondering what in the world a “non-infectious positive” is, well I’m afraid I can’t help you with any sort of certainty. My best guess is that it means Barnes had antibodies which prevents the spread of the virus, but it is a phrase I have not heard before and Googling led me to either nothing or sources like this that are frankly above my head. Science classes were never really my bag.

Comments from Alex Cora sort of back up my thought here though. Cora indicated that Barnes was cleared by MLB’s COVID Joint Committee, which is part of the health and safety protocols agreed to by the league and the players.

The upshot of all of this is that the Red Sox are now mostly at full strength. There are still some questions about how long Eduardo Rodriguez will be out, and there’s a slim chance Christian Vázquez and Franchy Cordero will miss a little time to start the year, but things look much better than they did a few hours ago. We’ll take it.