From Comcast SportsNetBOSTON (AP) -- Hawaiian Shane Victorino was so excited to arrive in Boston in the chill of December he ordered some New England clam chowder at dinner and sent a picture to his Twitter followers.That's when he got his first lesson."It's CHOWDA, Shane!" Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury corrected him."That was the first real message from Jacoby for Boston," Victorino said Thursday at a news conference to announce the 39 million, three-year deal he agreed to at the winter meetings. "I've got to learn the lingo."Victorino joins Ellsbury in the Red Sox outfield, with the opportunity to replace the 2011 AL MVP runner-up when Ellsbury's contract expires at the end of next season. In the meantime, Victorino is slotted for right field, where he has not played regularly since 2007."I always look at it as, I'm going to help this team win,'" Victorino said. "I came in as a right fielder. ... Don't get me wrong, I love center field, I want to be a center fielder, but I play right. I'm excited for the opportunity. I might wrap myself around that pole, but if I've got to go get the ball I've got to go get it."Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said adding a "center field-quality right fielder" was one of his goals for the offseason. It's also been important to add players who can improve the chemistry of a team that collapsed in September 2011 and never got in position to collapse in 2012."He fits perfectly into our short- and long-term plan," Cherington said. "He's been an outstanding performer for a lot of years in a tough place to play. He's been a big part of great teams. We're thrilled to add him to our team and to our clubhouse."Victorino said he followed the problems in Boston from afar, and he thinks the chemistry problems can be solved by winning."The last two years have definitely been tough for the Red Sox, the organization. But I look forward to 2013 and being the team we could be," he said, noting that he experienced his own disappointment this fall after making the playoffs five years in a row. "I fell short last year. It wasn't fun to be home at the beginning of October."Nicknamed the Flyin' Hawaiian, Victorino is a .275 hitter with 90 homers in seven full seasons. He came up to the major leagues with San Diego but played most of his career with Philadelphia before he was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the July 31 trade deadline."I always said Fenway was one of my favorites-- there and Wrigley, because of the tradition," he said from an event room in the ballpark, where the scoreboard welcomed him to Boston. "To call this home for the next three years, I'm ecstatic."There is no convincing. It's Boston; that, in itself, says it all. It's the Red Sox. It's a historic franchise."Victorino said his experience with the demanding Phillies fans should also help prepare him for Boston."I'm hoping it's not worse than Philly," he said. "I hope it's not that tough because that was a very tough market. I played in Philly all those years. That was a trying experience."Also Thursday, Cherington said he had nothing to announce on Mike Napoli, the catcher-first baseman who also agreed to a 39 million, three-year deal during the winter meetings, pending a physical. That contract has yet to be announced."Our hope is that we'll be able to resolve the issues," Cherington said. "We're working on it."Cherington did not comment on negotiations with Ryan Dempster, who finished last season with the Texas Rangers. Later Thursday, the team reached an agreement with him on a two-year, 26.5 million deal, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the deal was pending a physical."We're engaged with a pitcher," Cherington said, without mentioning Dempster by name. "That's all I can say at this point."
It was never going to be perfect.
But Major League Baseball’s coronavirus testing system needs to be good enough.
That may not seem like an especially high bar to set.
But so far it has been a difficult one for baseball to clear.
In fact, the latest example of baseball's biggest challenge in pulling off a 60-game season played out at Wrigley Field on Monday. That's when the team that by all indications has done the best job of establishing and following safe practices had its manager and five other “Tier 1” members of the organization sit out activities “out of an abundance of caution” because their latest COVID-19 tests, from Saturday, remained “pending.”
Tier 1, by the way, comprises the 80-something members of the organization with the highest access, including players and coaches.
The results had been analyzed. But as pitching coach Tommy Hottovy explained, they appeared to be in a batch of samples that included at least one positive test, the batch involving multiple teams. So they were retested. Five of those retested samples, including manager David Ross’, were negative, the team said late Monday, with the sixth considered “compromised” and another test done.
The sixth did not belong to a player.
Give the Cubs another gold star for getting through yet another round of tests — and yet another glitch in that process — without having a player test positive.
But give MLB another kick in the ass. The testing issues don’t seem to be as bad as they were throughout the league that first holiday weekend of processing. But it hasn’t fixed this thing yet, either.
Whether it’s a lab-capacity issue, a quality issue or a shipping issue, it’s not even close to good enough.
Not for 30 teams barely a week from leaving their individual training-site bubbles to start playing each other for two months. Not when more than one-third of those teams play in locales considered hot spots for the pandemic. Not in the world’s most infected country.
“We do feel comfortable in this bubble that we’ve kind of created here,” said Hottovy, who was hit hard by the virus for a month before camp started. “When the season starts though and we start traveling and we start putting ourselves in some different circumstances, we just don’t know what to expect with that.
“We’re still taking this day-to-day for sure.”
Players across baseball, including Cubs star Kris Bryant, said they were upset and surprised at how unprepared MLB’s testing system appeared to be when camps opened. Two weeks of testing later, and just enough issues persist to make the league’s entire 2020 undertaking look more tenuous than ever.
The season starts July 23. That’s not much time to get it “good enough” — never mind to get it right. But, again, we're not asking for perfection.
The league protocols require testing thousands of players and other team personnel every other day through the end of the season.
Imagine sitting a manager and three or four players from a single team on a game day because of “pending” or “compromised” test results. Imagine that happening two or three times a week to various teams. Or worse — imagine a given team doesn’t exercise “an abundance of caution” and puts the players or staff in question on the field or in the dugout and clubhouse anyway.
“The only concern that I have right now is how long the test will take to get the results back,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said on Thursday. “Other than that, I don’t think I am at risk inside of the ballpark because the Cubs have been doing the best they can to keep us safe in here."
“I don’t have any concerns about my teammates, because I trust them. I know we all are doing our best to keep [each other] safe, and that way we can have a season this year.”
Contreras expressed tolerance with the system so far and was reluctant to point a finger at MLB or anyone else.
“But how can that get better?” he said. “I have no answer for that.”
It doesn’t matter whose fault it is as much as it matters that an answer is found quickly.
Players, staff and their families already have taken on the daily stress and anxiety of this health risk and the every-other-day process of holding your breath until the next result comes in.
“You get that test day coming up when you might get results, and it’s a little bit of that unknown, a little bit of anxiety of, ‘Have I done everything right?’ “ Ross said. “You start running back the day since you’ve been tested and what you’ve done, where you’ve gone, who you’ve been in contact with, just in case something bad may come back on your test. It’s real.”
Thirteen players, including Giants star Buster Posey, already have declined to play this season, all but one without a pre-existing condition that would qualify as “high risk” under the agreement between players and management.
Angels superstar Mike Trout heads a list of several more who have talked openly about opting out at some point, depending on how things look as we get closer to games.
That includes Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who said Sunday, “I still have concerns” and that he has not ruled out heading home if he doesn’t feel it’s safe anymore for him or his family to keep playing.
Maybe Trout, Darvish, Posey and the rest of those players have the right idea.
In fact, maybe we’d all be better off if baseball rededicated its testing capacity to a general public that suddenly is facing shortages again in a growing number of hot spots.
But if baseball is going to stick to its plan and try to pull off this season, then it needs to get this right. Right now.
Nobody’s expecting anything great at this point. Maybe not even especially good. But good enough? In the next week or so?
Would that be too much to ask?
Andrew Shaw issued a statement on Instagram late Monday night, announcing he will not join the Blackhawks for the 2019-20 restart as he continues to work his way back from a concussion.
But the 28-year-old winger also revealed he plans on returning for the 2020-21 season and looks forward to coming back "better and stronger than ever!"
Here's the full statement, which has been lightly edited for clarity:
I just wanted to let all Blackhawks fans and hockey fans know that I am doing well and getting better every day! I feel healthy and am close to fully being healed from not just my last concussion but from others I have had over the years.
I've learned a lot about concussions and head injuries over the past few years thanks to the Blackhawks medical staff of Dr. Mike Terry, Mike Gapski, Jeff Thomas and Patrick Becker. They have helped me in more ways than I can thank them. I love them dearly for doing so because I am the type of person who would play through anything for my teammates.
With all that being said, along with my family who has shown me so much support, we have come to the difficult decision that these extra five months until next season would be great for my health and recovery. I look forward to being back next season, better and stronger than ever! There's nothing I would love more than to be back out on the ice with the boys battling for Lord Stanley.
I'll be cheering my teammates on and supporting the Blackhawks through this run! Love you boys and miss you like crazy!
Shaw, who has two years left on his contract after this season, has a history of head injuries and last appeared in a game on Nov. 30. The NHL's tentative plan is to start next season on Dec. 1.