Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez in MLB’s COVID-19 protocol due to cold symptoms

J.D. Martinez will not play in Saturday’s game against the Orioles. The slugger is under the weather and is dealing with cold symptoms, which resulted in him being placed in MLB’s COVID-19 protocols.

The Red Sox, however, do not feel that Martinez has COVID.

“With J.D., he’s under the weather,” Sox manager Alex Cora said during his pregame media availability Saturday. “He has cold symptoms. So the protocol has been activated. We’ll have more information throughout the night or tomorrow morning. We feel pretty confident that he’ll be able to be with us tomorrow. But obviously, we have to wait.”

Per the league’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 season, Martinez must test negative twice before being cleared to return to baseball activities. The 33-year-old has already taken a rapid COVID test and has taken or will take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

“I spoke to J.D.,” said Cora. “Obviously, we never know with the virus, but he feels pretty confident that it’s just a regular cold.”

There is a chance that the Red Sox could place Martinez on the COVID-related injured list before Saturday’s game and still have him available to play on Sunday.

In that scenario, Boston would activate one of the five taxi squad players who are currently traveling with the team for their first road trip of the season. Chris Herrmann, Michael Chavis, Cesar Puello, Colten Brewer, and Ryan Weber are those five players.

Again, Martinez’s absence would likely only last one day, as the Sox appear confident that the three-time All-Star just has a cold, not COVID-19.

“From our end, we do believe he’s going to be back with us tomorrow,” Cora said.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox release revised Grapefruit League schedule

The Red Sox were originally slated to open Grapefruit League play against the Pirates on February 27, but their spring training schedule has since been revised.

Per a team release, the Sox will now kick off their slate of exhibition games on February 28 against the Twins at Hammond Stadium, and instead of playing just about every other Grapefruit League team, they will only be playing the Twins, Braves, Orioles, Pirates and Rays.

That being the case because all five of those teams’ spring training complexes are located within close proximity to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, and “to reflect the recommendations suggested by medical experts and infectious disease specialists, Major League Baseball has regionalized the matchups between teams to limit travel.”

By the time spring training comes to an end in late March, the Red Sox will have hopefully played 29 games in a span of 31 days, though the rules for those games will be quite relaxed as part of MLB’s health and safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, games between February 27 and March 13 can be played as five- or seven-inning games, as long as the managers agree, while games on or after March 4 will be scheduled as nine innings but managers can agree to shorten them to seven if they so choose.

In total, Boston is scheduled to play 15 of its Grapefruit League contests at JetBlue Park and 14 of them on the road in Bradenton, Fort Myers, North Port, Port Charlotte, and Sarasota.

The team plans on having fans in the stands for home games, though only at a limited capacity to allow for proper social distancing measures. From the aforementioned release:

“The Red Sox will implement appropriate physical distancing and safety protocols that would allow fans to return in a limited capacity for 2021 Spring Training exhibition games by operating JetBlue Park at approximately 24 percent of its normal capacity. All tickets will be sold in physically distanced ‘pods’ comprised primarily of 2-4 seats that will allow for at least six feet between groups. Season Ticket Holders will be offered the first opportunity to attend exhibition games and additional tickets may go on sale to the general public depending on availability. All day games at JetBlue Park will start at 1:05 p.m., and all night games will start at 6:05 p.m.”

For the Red Sox’ full 2021 spring training and regular season schedule, click here.

(Picture of JetBlue Park: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)