ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have reached the 85-percent standard of players and staff being vaccinated to enjoy relaxed health and safety protocols.
The change is still several weeks away, as the team now has to wait for all the players, coaches and close-contact staff to clear the two-week period following their final dose to be considered ’'fully vaccinated” and for some related procedural matters to be addressed.
But pitcher Tyler Glasnow, the team’s player union rep, said the benefits, which include reduced COVID-19 testing and mask-wearing and additional freedoms at restaurants and team hotels, per an agreement between the league and the union, will be most welcome.
“Things are more relaxed, obviously,” Glasnow said. “There’s still stuff, like you have to wear a mask in the clubhouse and everything. But I don’t think you have to out on the field, and you can eat in restaurants and all that normal stuff. It goes back to, like, kind of normal life.”
Among other changes, the 70 or so players, coaches and staff in the Tier 1 category will be allowed to eat in restaurants (indoor and outdoor), discontinue mask-wearing in the dugout and bullpen, have guests in their hotel rooms and resume shared clubhouse activities, such as playing video games.
“I just think it’s nice to kind of just go back to reality a little bit, just kind of make it like a normal season,” Glasnow said. “Into a 162-game season, it’s nice to just ... do whatever you can to alleviate stress, and I think this is a good place to start.”
Seattle manager Scott Servais recently said he knew of 10 teams reaching the standard, and Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said last week his team was very close.
Left-hander Cody Reed threw well in his first bullpen session since receiving a Botox shot to address numbness and weakness in his left thumb. Manager Kevin Cash said Reed and Collin McHugh, who had been sidelined with a back strain, will throw to hitters in Port Charlotte on Thursday and at Tropicana Field over the weekend. If all goes well, they could re-join the team for the week-long trip to Anaheim and Oakland.
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