Yoan Moncada doesn’t know how he became infected with the coronavirus.
“I guess I touched a surface that was infected and after I touched my eyes or my mouth or something,” the White Sox third baseman said Thursday through interpreter Billy Russo. “I guess that was how it happened.”
But he doesn’t know. He just knows he showed up at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 1 to go through MLB’s intake procedures, but never made it inside to the team facilities until 15 days later.
Moncada was shocked when the doctor told him two days after his test that he had tested positive for COVID-19. But a day or two after getting his results, he lost his sense of smell and taste. Those were his only symptoms and they only lasted a few days.
“I never thought I had it before I tested positive,” Moncada said. “When I got the results I was a little scared because I didn't know how it would affect me or what kind of symptoms I would develop. Thank God I felt good for the most part. I couldn't do anything or any physical activity because I stayed at home, but it was scary and a difficult time. I'm just glad to be back and to be healthy.”
Moncada finally rejoined his team Thursday and was able to participate in batting practice.
“It looked like he hadn’t skipped a beat,” manager Rick Renteria said, before adding that Moncada was a little rusty in the field.
Now the challenge is to get ready for a regular season that begins in eight days and Moncada is hopeful he’ll be able to be in the lineup July 24. Renteria said he would have a better idea in two or three days.
Meanwhile, everyone, especially Moncada, is relieved he is healthy and back with the team so soon.
“I thought this would probably take longer, but thank God all the symptoms and all the protocols were good and it took less time than I was suspecting,” he said.
Despite the scary experience, he never wavered on playing this season.
“I was always confident to play this season,” Moncada said. “I will be doing whatever it takes to play. I'm glad just to be here and that it didn't take as long as I expected.”
Another relief is that Moncada’s family was not infected. He arrived in Chicago just one day before he was tested, which suggests he may have contracted the coronavirus before he arrived. But his wife and daughter remained at their home in Florida and are healthy. That made quarantining a little easier.
“It wasn't as difficult as you would think because (they were home) and they were good. They are healthy. I think in that aspect it wasn't as difficult as you would think,” he said.
Moncada is the only known player with the big-league club to contract the virus. The team confirmed two cases, but pitcher Jose Ruiz, the other suspected case, reported to Schaumburg Thursday to join the taxi squad. Moncada said he felt fine being around his teammates – he had to test negative twice to rejoin the team – but he understands if they are apprehensive.
“I understand if they feel afraid or if they have any doubt about being around me, because I know, I know that it's something scary,” Moncada said. “But I don't feel scared or afraid or have any doubt to be around them. I feel good. I know I'm healthy and it's something I can control.”
Hopefully that is the case and Moncada can finally concentrate on baseball. Opening Day is just eight days away.