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Marlins’ Don Mattingly tests positive for COVID-19, will be away from club at least 10 days

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 8/1/2021 Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly made his way to loanDepot park on Saturday with what general manager Kim Ng described as “a little bit of a runny nose.”

It turned out to be much more than that.

Mattingly tested positive for COVID-19 and was sent home prior to the team’s 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees. The positive test coupled with the symptoms, despite being deemed mild, mean that the 60-year-old Mattingly will be away from the club for a minimum of 10 days even though he has been fully vaccinated since mid-April.

“We hope he gets better soon,” Ng said in an interview on the Bally Sports Florida broadcast during Saturday’s game.

Added starting pitcher Trevor Rogers: “That kind of hit us in the face really.”

Bench coach James Rowson served as the Marlins’ acting manager in Mattingly’s absence on Saturday and will continue to assume that role until Mattingly returns. The first game Mattingly would be able to return, if cleared after the minimum 10 days, is Aug. 10 against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, the penultimate game of a six-game road trip.

“Getting the news to manage, this is not the way you’d like to get it first of all,” Rowson said. “Just want to make sure Donnie’s healthy and can get through this stuff and return and then get back to doing what he does. Obviously it’s not the way you look forward to that, but once it happened, it was good. It was a team effort. Everybody got together and we just kind of picked up the slack.”

Marlins coaches and players underwent rapid antigen testing following Mattingly’s positive result. Everyone tested negative.

But the news and the contact tracing and the rapid testing did bring some players back to what they went through a year ago.

On July 26, 2020, the Marlins’ season was put on hold when 18 players and two coaches tested positive for COVID-19 following their first series of the 60-game season. A week in quarantine ensued before those who tested negative bused to Baltimore to continue their season. Those who tested positive returned to South Florida and remained in quarantine.

“We can’t take [the coronavirus] for granted,” said Rojas, one of the 18 players who tested positive last season. “The vaccine is going to help us get over the hump, but at the same time we need to make sure that that we don’t get back to the point where we were in early 2020. Nobody’s ready to get back to that.”

The Marlins have been above MLB’s threshold of having at least 85 percent of their Tier 1 personnel fully vaccinated from COVID-19 that allows for easing of some of MLB’s health and safety protocols since June.

The group that factors into this tier include all players at the MLB and Triple A level as well as coaches and staff members with direct contact to players.

Since the Marlins hit the threshold, they do not have to wear masks in the dugout or bullpen nor do they have to wear contact tracing tracking devices. Individuals on the team are also able to gather for activities in the clubhouse and on team airplanes and buses. They will also be tested less frequently and are now allowed to dine indoors.

COVID-19 cases in Florida have been rising in recent weeks. The Centers for Disease Control announced that there were 21,683 new positive cases on Saturday in the state — the largest single-day total in the state since the pandemic began. The average number of new positive cases over the last seven days in Florida is 15,817 cases.

“I feel like everybody needs to do their part to stay healthy and try to keep others as healthy as well,” Rojas said. “And this is another call for people to get the vaccine and then trying to keep the risk of getting really, really injured or their health problems down because that’s the biggest thing. ... Looking forward for people, not just in Miami but all over the world, to continue to think about that.”

Meanwhile, the Marlins still had a game to play and they lost for the third consecutive time. They are now 44-60 on the season.

Rogers, making his first start since going on the injured list with lower back muscle spasms, threw just 3 2/3 innings — his shortest start of the season — and gave up two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four.

All of the damage came in the second inning. He hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch to lead off the inning and then surrendered three consecutive hits — a double to Giancarlo Stanton, an RBI single to Rougned Odor and an RBI double to Gary Sanchez — before retiring the next three batters he faced.

Rizzo, a Parkland Majorie Stoneman Douglas High grad, scored two more runs on an Anthony Bender wild pitch in the fifth and a solo home run (his second in as many days) in the seventh against Steven Okert.

The Marlins scored both of their runs in the fourth. Jorge Alfaro hit an RBI triple that scored Miguel Rojas and then scored himself on a wild pitch.

The Marlins had the tying runs on the basepaths in the ninth with one out but could not bring them in.

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