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Indians' Ramirez, Reyes isolated after COVID-19 violations

Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez fields a ground ball during a spring training baseball practice Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) — For the third time in less than a year, the Cleveland Indians are having to isolate players because they broke COVID-19 protocols.

Third baseman José Ramírez and slugger Franmil Reyes are being kept away from their teammates at spring training in Arizona after they reported to the team that they went out to dinner in violation of team and Major League Baseball regulations.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that the two players were sent to their temporary homes as the Indians await word from the league as to when they can rejoin the team.

Francona said Reyes, who had a virus-related misstep last season, and Ramirez went out to dinner on Friday following an exhibition game in Mesa against the Chicago Cubs.

They reported to the team’s complex on Saturday and were immediately sent home. They did not have contact with any other players or team personnel.

“We’re pretty fortunate here,” Francona said on a Zoom call. “We have some medical people who are right on top of things and they came right to me and they said: ‘Look, this is what we’re doing. We’re informing the league.’ The players themselves actually self-reported that they had made a mistake.

“So we told them: ‘This is not our rules. These are the rules that the players’ association and Major League Baseball came up with. We have to enforce them.'”

Francona said he hoped to have more information about the situation later. He spoken to both players, and they they understood they could have put others in jeopardy.

“They were both upfront and honest with us about what happened,” Francona said. “We’re not trying to put guys in the penalty box. We try to talk to guys almost every day. ‘Hey, this is gonna happen if — it doesn’t matter if you agree with it or not. These are the protocols that are in place and you have to live by it.'”

This the second time Reyes has broken coronavirus protocols.

When spring training resumed last year after being stopped due to the pandemic, Reyes was forced to quarantine after the team learned via a social media posting that he attended a July 4 party while wearing a mask.

A month later, the Indians placed pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac on the restricted list after they broke protocols by going out to dinner while the team was in Chicago. Clevinger, who was traded a few weeks later to San Diego, initially didn’t disclose he had been out with Plesac.

Francona understands that players may be fatigued by the COVID-19 guidelines, but they’re in place to protect their safety.

“I do get it. I have it (fatigue) too,” he said. “Everybody wants to get rid of your mask and it’d be nice to go sit in a restaurant. Those aren’t the conditions we’re playing under. I also know those guys are young and it’s not normal to be cooped up.

“It doesn’t have to just be baseball. It’s everybody. It’s life. But these are the rules we’re playing under and the more we follow them, the better chance it gives us to be a complete baseball team. Because right now, we’ve lost a couple guys for two, three, four days. That doesn’t help.”

Since they’ve had at least three known violations, Francona was asked if the club is more vigilant than others teams in monitoring their players.

“Every team, I don’t know if they follow it quite as diligently,” he said. “They may not. But we do. I think we’re fortunate that our medical people are that diligent. I don’t think it’s a fact that our players are not good kids or good guys. I think we’re fortunate there too. Like I said, they self reported. They said they messed up.

“It’s not for me to be judge and jury for other teams. I know how we’re doing it here and I think we’re comfortable doing that. And I think it’s the best way to keep these guys safe. And it’s the rules, so that’s why we do it,” he said.

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