ST. PETERSBURG — Outfielder Austin Meadows seems likely to miss the start of the Rays season after being placed on the injured list as a result of testing positive for the coronavirus.
Meadows participated in the July 3 opening workout of Spring 2.0 and had not been seen on the field with the other players at Tropicana Field since. He is the second Rays player known to have tested positive, as pitcher Tyler Glasnow joined the team on Tuesday for the first time. Lefty reliever Aaron Loup was added to the 40-man roster in Meadows’ place.
Meadows told the Tampa Bay Times via text Thursday night that he was feeling good and looked forward to returning soon, but he didn’t have an exact date: “The first couple days I was pretty fatigued and some mild cold symptoms. But feeling ready to go now.”
Meadows, a 2019 All-Star and team co-MVP, still has to complete Major League Baseball’s protocol for returning, which includes two negative tests at least 24 hours apart and then receiving clearance from the team doctor and a league-union committee. Plus there is the matter of baseball readiness, as he would have, in a best-case scenario, less than a week to get into shape physically and get enough at-bats.
Players have no required minimum stay when on the injured list for COVID-19 reasons, so his return for the July 24 opener is not impossible. “I’m not really sure,” said Meadows, who hit a team-high 33 home runs last season. “Definitely eager to get back out there with the guys. We are taking it day by day.‘'
Because players on the injured list for coronavirus reasons also don’t count against the 40-man roster (or the 60-player pool limit) during their stay, the Rays made official what seemed obvious in adding Loup. The 32-year-old longtime Blue Jay was impressive in the original spring training and again in the two weeks of this camp.
When Meadows, who consented for the news of his diagnosis to be shared publicly, is activated, the Rays will have to take someone else off the 40-man roster. No additions to the 60-man pool are planned.
Three other Rays players have yet to be seen working out with the team since its return: pitcher Yonny Chirinos, infielder Jose Martinez and outfielder Randy Arozarena. Pitcher Brendan McKay participated in the first few workouts but has not been with the group on the field in 10 days.