Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant had a simple message for Mike Moustakas on Wednesday, when the Reds infielder returned to the lineup for the first time since Saturday.
"I told Moustakas out there, I know he was caught up in the protocol, and I thanked him, because that’s how we’re going to finish the season," Bryant told reporters after Cincinnati's 12-7 win on Wednesday.
Bryant is obviously speaking of MLB's COVID-19 protocol, which caused the Reds a few problems the last few days.
Moustakas and Reds center fielder Nick Senzel woke up feeling unwell on Sunday. Cincinnati placed the former on the injured list, not divulging whether Moustakas tested positive for COVID-19. Senzel was not placed on the IL but was scratched from the lineup.
Both players tested negative for the coronavirus, according to reports, but were still absent from the lineup for three games. Per MLB's Operations Manual, players who self-report symptoms can't return until testing negative in the league's expedited diagnostic and confirmatory tests, they stop showing symptoms and the team's physician allows them to return.
Moustakas and Senzel appealed to the league and won, allowing them to return Wednesday.
Bryant is thankful Moustakas followed protocol and didn't try to play on Sunday. Moustakas' situation came amid more than a dozen Marlins testing positive for the coronavirus, putting Miami's season on hold through Sunday.
"It’s strange. Again, like we haven’t been in this situation ever before as baseball players," Bryant said. "You say you have the sniffles and you’re just looked down upon; you’re judged and stuff like that.
"If you wake up and you don’t feel great or whatever — anything — you have to check that box of the survey that we fill out every morning and you go from there. I respect everybody who says that they have something, I completely respect them, because they’re going to be the ones who help us finish the season."