Astros get good news on COVID-19 protocol front

Houston Astros pitchers in the bullpen during the first inning of an MLB spring training game at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, Monday, March 1, 2021.Karen Warren/Staff photographer

JUPITER, Fla. — No new players have joined the eight Astros pitchers sidelined by health and safety protocols, inviting optimism that the club has better control of the situation.

Pitchers Ronel Blanco, Bryan Abreu, Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier, Pedro Baez, Enoli Paredes, Hector Velazquez and Francis Martes are still missing from workouts, but manager Dusty Baker intimated on Sunday the Astros are receiving good news while they’re away.

“We’ve been getting some pretty good news that some of these guys have been coming up negative in some of their tests,” Baker said. “Hopefully if they continue to do so, we’ll be back in three or four days.”

Neither Baker nor general manager James Click will disclose how many — if any — Astros players have tested positive for COVID-19. On Friday, Major League Baseball and the Players Association announced five players across the sport tested positive for the virus within the last week.

The league’s operations manual mandates a seven-day quarantine for any players sidelined by health and safety protocols. Baker first revealed Abreu, Blanco and Garcia’s absences last Thursday before adding the other five pitchers on Friday. Baez, Paredes and Martes worked at the Astros’ facility on Thursday night before being sent home on Friday.

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