Six Yankees who tested positive for COVID-19 nearing returns








Help is on the way for the patchwork Yankees.

While their replacements have held down the fort and given the team a shot in the arm coming out of the All-Star break, most of the six Yankees who tested positive for COVID-19 are nearing a return during a critical stretch of games.

While Jonathan Loaisiga is expected to be the first one back, potentially as early as Friday, Gio Urshela was Boston-bound Thursday or Friday and could also return before the series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park wraps up on Sunday, according to manager Aaron Boone.

Aaron Judge and Kyle Higashioka could also meet the team in Boston and travel with the Yankees on Sunday night for another key series, which begins Tuesday against the Rays.

Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela
Aaron Judge And Gio Urshela
Getty Images; EPA

“They’re all doing well,” Boone said Thursday before the series with the Red Sox got underway.

“[Urshela] could possibly be in play for us by the end of the weekend. Higgy and Judgey could be here by the end of the weekend and go with us to Tampa and see where we are when we get there with them.”

Players coming back from COVID-19 must go through a cardiovascular workout before they are cleared to be activated, which Nestor Cortes Jr. was traveling to Tampa on Thursday to do. Boone said the pitcher has thrown a couple bullpen sessions and “could potentially be in play this weekend,” depending on the Yankees’ pitching situation.

“Could also just throw down there and meet us in Tampa,” Boone said. “We’ll just see how he’s doing and what our needs are here moving forward over the next 24-48 hours.”

Without Judge and Urshela in the starting lineup since the All-Star break, the Yankees have utilized their newfound speed to score in different ways during the four-game winning streak they took into Thursday at Fenway Park. That speed has been led by outfielder Greg Allen, who took Judge’s spot on the roster when the slugger went on the COVID-19 IL.

The Yankees have also missed Loaisiga as a weapon in the back end of their bullpen, while Cortes had given them a pair of solid spot starts before testing positive for COVID-19. In his absence, they turned to Asher Wojciechowski as a fifth starter Wednesday night in a 6-5 win over the Phillies before designating him for assignment on Thursday. The Yankees won’t need a fifth starter again until July 31 at the earliest.

Boone did not provide an update on reliever Wandy Peralta, who had been throwing with Loaisiga in Austin, Texas, while the two were quarantined.

While Loaisiga, Cortes and Peralta had all been vaccinated (making their positive tests breakthrough cases) at least one among Judge, Urshela and Higashioka were not vaccinated, according to the Yankees.

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