Do you know how hard it was not to make the headline “Houston, We Have a Problem!”? Really hard. I really wanted to do it. In any case … holy moly, does Houston have a problem. Five players have just been sent to the COVID-19 related Injured List, and I bet you know every single one of their names:
The Astros announce they've placed Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Martin Maldonado and Robel Garcia on the injured list for unspecified reasons.
Garrett Stubbs, Alex De Goti, Ronnie Dawson, Taylor Jones and Ronnie Dawson were called up from the ATS.
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) April 14, 2021
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman will catch the most eyes, but it’s not like we don’t know former top-50 prospect Yordan Alvarez, or former Cubs Robel Garcia and Martin Maldonado. All five are heading to the IL and although it’s usually unwise to speculate, it seems pretty likely this is COVID related.
Immediate update: And, yup, there it is.
Astros general manager James Click could only say that the five players are on the injured list "as a result of health and safety protocols"
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) April 14, 2021
Now, as we all know (the Cubs have four players on the COVID related IL, none of whom have tested positive (plus Kyle Hendricks, who was scratched out of an abundance of caution last night, but also has not tested positive)), your presence on the list decidedly does NOT mean you currently have COVID. And even a cryptic message from the GM shouldn’t be decoded for clues. Hopefully, this is nothing more than a problem with exposure or close contact to someone with COVID and the team is just taking all the necessary precautions to keep their players safe.
And remember, the roster and time-sensitive rules of the COVID-related IL are more forgiving than the traditional IL specifically so that teams are encouraged to er on the side of over-using it.
Even still, it is truly shocking to see five players just go *POOF*. And it underscores the importance for every player and organizational member to get the vaccine, follow the guidelines, and stay safe. The virus is still out there and is still spreading. And the decision not to wear a mask or not to take the vaccine is not an individual one. It affects everyone, including people who haven’t been able to get the shot yet, people who are ineligible to get the shot, and people who, for unrelated health reasons, cannot get the shot (which includes my grandmother, for one).
In the meantime, if this is just an abundance of caution, I’m actually proud of the Astros for acting quickly and decisively, even if on the back of a four-game losing streak.