Two positive tests for COVID-19 by Yomiuri Giants players derailed their team’s plan to play a practice game against the Seibu Lions at Tokyo Dome on Wednesday, the club announced according to the Mainichi Shimbun.
The news comes a day after Tokyo’s government issued an alert about the danger of a second wave of infections after 34 new confirmed cases were announced in the metropolis on Tuesday.
Sakamoto, Oshiro test positive
There were supposed to be six practice games on Wednesday as teams build up for Nippon Professional Baseball’s June 19 season openers, but Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara abruptly called and end to the home team’s practice on Wednesday according to a source with the team.
“Everyone was running around like crazy,” the source said. “The Seibu Lions showed up later for their practice and there was nobody on the field and they didn’t know what was going on.”
In May, two days after June 19 was announced as Opening Day, the Giants said at least 220 people in the organization would get antibody blood tests for the coronavirus.
“Why don’t you test people before you announce when you’re going to start the season?” the source asked.
Actually, the Giants were the one team to do early testing, having 218 people in the organization take an antibody test. The four who tested positive then took the PCR test that produced the players’ positive results.
The show goes on
Due to the nature of the players’ test results, a top epidemiologist has declared they are not high risks to infect others due to the small amount of virus DNA produced by their tests. Dr. Mitsuo Kaku, who has been advising NPB on its health guidelines believes the players had been infected for quite some time.
Armed with that information, NPB secretary general Atsushi Ihara, said the infections changed nothing for the time being,
For their part, the Giants have ordered everyone connected with the first team to undergo a PCR test by Thursday morning. The Lions said there is no indication any of their players needed to be tested and the club is moving forward with its workouts and practice games as planned.
NPB is currently in the final stages of formalizing coronavirus guidelines that would reportedly force players testing positive such as Sakamoto and Oshiro to self-quarantine for two weeks after they produce negative test results. But with Opening Day now barely two weeks away, that and the added time it would take for them to regain fitness would — if applied to the Giants’ guys — keep them out of action until well after Opening Day.
The Giants, however, said they were keen to get the pair back as soon as they tested negative, which at first glance seemed to fly in the face of the guidelines. Having said that, the Giants as an organization have a long history of flouting guidelines when it suits them.
The SoftBank Hawks’ game at Kyocera Dome against the Orix Buffaloes started on schedule at 6 pm. While starting Wednesday afternoon, the Giants began having all their players and staff PCR tested.
Bour, Mejia continue to bop
In the four day games that did go ahead as scheduled, Justin Bour of the Hanshin Tigers and Alejandro Mejia of the Hiroshima Carp each homered for the second-straight day at Koshien Stadium.
Kosuke Fukudome also homered for the Tigers, which is kind of cool. I like it when a guy who is 43 and (almost) too old to be my son is in the game highlights.