Minnesota Twins pitcher J.A. Happ’s entry to spring training has been delayed after he tested positive for COVID-19 upon intake testing, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Saturday, Feb. 2020.
Falvey said Happ is presently asymptomatic and is quarantining in Fort Myers, Fla.
“I think coming into camp we knew that the odds were that there would be some positive tests,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “In some small way at the beginning of J.A.’s camp when he comes in will he be a little behind initially? Probably so. That being said, I don’t foresee this being a long-term issue of any kind.”
Baldelli said Happ had all the equipment he needed — baseballs, nets — to keep up his throwing progression at home so that when he gets to camp he shouldn’t be too far behind. Happ tested positive a few days ago, Falvey said, and can be retested after 10 days as long as he stays asymptomatic.
The Twins added the veteran lefty to their rotation last month, inking him to a one-year, $8 million deal.
“I think he has every opportunity to be ready to go for opening day, and we’re going to go in with that premise, but we’re going to wait and see when he gets here and have those conversations with him when the time comes,” Baldelli said.
Happ was one of 13 players missing when Twins pitchers and catchers began workouts Friday morning in Fort Myers, Fla. None of those 13 had joined the group on Saturday.
Aside from potential COVID-19 positives or exposures, visa issues and extreme weather conditions around the country have also slowed players’ entry into camp. Some might simply be quarantining while waiting for their intake testing results. Plenty of position players have already trickled into camp, including Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez. The first full team workout is scheduled for Tuesday.
Garver at full health
It was an offseason filled with exciting news for catcher Mitch Garver — he and his wife, Sarah, found out they are expecting a baby boy in July and they closed on a new house in Colorado — and yet it was uneventful all at the same time.
There were no New Year’s Eve parties, no weddings to attend, no traveling, and most nights, the couple went to sleep by 10 p.m. As a result, Garver had limited distractions and more time to focus on his offseason work.
After a breakout season in 2019, Garver’s production took a hit last season, and he thinks a lot of the issues he had stemmed from the intercostal strain he suffered in August that forced him to miss a month of the season.
“We kind of picked that apart early in the offseason and maybe I wasn’t able to do some of the moves I needed to because I was subconsciously guarding it or it was hurting or it was not in the right spot, so we kind of made those adjustments early in the offseason,” Garver said. “(We were) like ‘Well, that’s why your swing didn’t feel good. Oh, OK.’ ”
Garver said he didn’t change his swing or approach over the offseason. Health, the Twins hope, will return him to his prior levels of offensive production. He hit 31 home runs in 2019 with a .273 batting average, .365 on-base percentage and .630 slugging percentage. In 23 games last year, he hit just two home runs and slashed .167/.247/.264.
“It was probably one of the better offseasons I’ve had just as far as strength, mobility and being healthy coming into camp,” he said. “There weren’t any distractions this offseason. It was more of a get fit and just focus on improving something every day.”