DETROIT — The deadline to get vaccinated in time to pass Canadian border requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine has passed for the Yankees’ first trip to Toronto. The Bombers are still not commenting on the vaccination status of their players, but Aaron Boone suggested that he expects to have his full roster against the Blue Jays.
“I think we’re going to be in a good spot. That’s my understanding,” the Yankees manager said before Tuesday’s series opener against the Tigers at Comerica Park.
When asked if anything had changed with the two unconfirmed players who were unvaccinated in spring training, Boone again did not answer directly.
“I don’t know the timelines of everything, to be honest. So my understanding is that we’re gonna be okay,” Boone said.
Unvaccinated players were given an exemption last year to travel to Canada and play the Blue Jays. That exemption expired in January and was not renewed. No foreigners are allowed to travel to Canada without being fully vaccinated, meaning having had their final dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a first shot of Johnson & Johnson 14 days before attempting to enter the country.
The Yankees had several players who were unvaccinated last season, but a few have since received the vaccine. The players and the Yankees have been vague about their status. Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo declined to answer directly about their status this spring. Rizzo, however, said he didn’t think it would be a problem for him.
When Judge was asked if he was vaccinated, he dodged the question.
“I think we’ll cross that bridge whenever the time comes, but right now so many things could change so I’m not really too worried about that,” Judge said.
When the Red Sox visit Toronto next week, they will be without pitcher Tanner Houck – who is unvaccinated – plus catcher Kevin Plawecki, who is vaccinated but tested positive on Monday, and two staff members, who tested positive for COVID. The Oakland Athletics played Toronto last weekend and placed catcher Austin Allen and left-handers A.J. Puk and Kirby Snead on the restricted list ahead of that series.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, teams can place players who cannot play in Toronto because of vaccination status on the restricted list. That means a player does not receive pay for those games or service time.
The Yankees play in Toronto May 2-4, June 17-19 and Sept. 26-28.
HICKS BACK ON TOP
Aaron Hicks was back in the leadoff spot for the third straight game Tuesday night and it paid off. The center-fielder, who has reached base in each of his eight games with a plate appearance, had a hit, walked twice, drove in a run and scored twice. He also stole a base.
“I certainly like how he started the year. He’s getting on base, gives you that switching element. I like the way he’s moving. He’s running well,” Boone said. “So I still feel like we have a number of candidates that could do that. But I do like Aaron right now his ability to get on base from both sides.”
Hicks is coming off missing most of last season after suffering a wrist injury that required surgery. That came as he was just getting back into the mix after 2019 Tommy John surgery.
The 32-year old looks fully healthy for the first time in three years and Boone sees that in his movement on the field.
“Seeing them beat out some hits already feels like he’s getting down the line really well,” Boone said. “It’s just having (running) as a focal point and it should be a part of this game. We want to take advantage (of the speed) when there are those opportunities (to steal bases).”
THE BOYS OF WINTER
The Yankees arrived in Detroit Monday to a blizzard. It snowed for three hours on the off day here. The snow was gone on Tuesday, but the temperatures were still frigid. Twenty minutes before the first pitch it was 40 degrees.
It’s just part of the season, Boone said.
“I mean it’s one of those things you know you have to deal with in the first month of the season from time to time,” Boone said. “It’s a warm weather sport but everyone deals with it at different times throughout the year. Obviously playing in New York and playing in the east and then you come here to Detroit, you know that these days are going to happen in the month of April. So guys have had enough experience doing it and nothing really changes.”