The outbreak of COVID-19 within the Mariners organization continues to grow each day with no signs of it slowing down.

Shortly before manager Scott Servais’ daily pregame media session, the team announced that he and third-base coach Manny Acta had tested positive Wednesday morning and were in isolation. Also top reliever Paul Sewald was placed on the COVID injured list.

When Servais has been absent in the past, Acta, who had managing stints with the Nationals and Guardians, served as interim manager. Kristopher Negron will serve as interim manager for the Mariners.

After playing professionally for 14 seasons, appearing in parts of six big league seasons, including 2018 and 2019 with the Mariners, Negron joined the organization’s player development staff in 2020 as assistant director of player development. He ran the team’s alternative training site in Tacoma during the COVID-shortened season. His only managing experience came last season at Class AAA Tacoma where he led the Rainiers to a 74-47 record and the Triple-A West title.

“We’ve been in meetings all morning talking with (Servais), talking with Manny, just kind of game planning how we’re going to draw up the whole day,” Negron said. “It’s been a lot of fun so far. We’ve been in constant communication with the entire group.”

Hitting coach Tony Arnerich will serve as third-base coach in place of Acta, and Zach Vincej, who has been coaching with Tacoma, has been brought up to fill Negron’s first-base coaching role. The Mariners will have minor league hitting coordinator C.J. Gilman and special coordinator Dan Wilson in uniform and in the dugout.


Right-hander Penn Murfee had his minor league contract selected from Tacoma to take Sewald’s place in the bullpen.

Moments before Negron filled Servais’ duties in the daily pregame media session, shortstop J.P. Crawford, who was his teammate in 2019 in Tacoma and Seattle, saluted him and said, “Hey, Skip, are daily pregame ground balls optional?”

Asked about a former teammate being his manager now, Crawford admitted it would be weird.

“But it’s kind of cool,” he said. “I can go up and talk to him about anything. I’m comfortable having played with him. There’s a different type of relationship there. He gets it. He gets everyone in this clubhouse.”

Sitting in the dugout, wearing a mask like the rest of the coaching and support staff, Negron seemed poised.

“It’s always going to be a little nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting at the same time,” Negron said. “Anytime with an opportunity like this, you’ve just got to try and take advantage of it as much as you can. I’ve been talking with Skip nonstop in spring training, we rode to games together every day. I was in his office every day. So we have a great relationship. I’m as prepared as I can be right now.”


Part of that preparation was managing in Tacoma in 2021.

“Granted it was only Triple-A but just having that little bit of background that year definitely makes me feel a lot more comfortable since this situation came up,” Negron said. “It’s all the little things. When you’re playing in the game, you’re just worried about playing. And when you’re in this seat, you have to have a bird’s-eye view, a bigger perspective on anything that can come up.”

Negron will lean on Arnerich, pitching coach Pete Woodworth, bullpen coach Trent Blank and assistant coach Carson Vitale.

“It’s something where you just roll with the punches,” Negron said. “We’re all fully capable. We’re going to work as a complete group. It’s going to be a full unit working together. Skip does a great job of keeping everybody so inclusive with everything, keeping everybody on the same page and cheers to him for putting all of us in a situation that if something came up like this, we’d all be successful.”

Per MLB policy, a player or coach is subject to quarantine for 10 days from the first report of symptoms or the positive test, whichever came first. That player can end isolation and return to play before the 10 days if he has two negative tests, shows no fever for 24 hours and receives approval from the team doctor and a joint committee. Players and coaches who are fully vaccinated can start testing two days after a positive test if they are showing no symptoms while nonvaccinated players and coaches have to wait five days from the positive test and show no symptoms before retesting.

Servais and Acta are vaccinated and must wait at least two days and have no symptoms before testing again. They will need consecutive days of negative tests and approval from the Mariners’ team physician before being allowed to return to the team. The earliest they could return to the team is Sunday. The Mariners have Monday off and open a three-city road trip Tuesday with a three-game series vs. the Rays at Tropicana Field.

By agreement with the MLB Players Association, the Mariners cannot disclose whether Sewald or any player is vaccinated.


More on the COVID-19 pandemic

Servais, Acta and Sewald join outfielder Mitch Haniger, catcher/designated hitter Luis Torrens and assistant coach Andy Bissell with known positive COVID tests. On Tuesday, Servais made it mandatory for all coaching staff and support staff to wear masks indoors and during contact with players in hopes of stemming the spread.

Infield coach Perry Hill has also been absent the last two days, and MLB sources said he has also tested positive. With Hill recently turning 70, there is an obvious concern for his health despite being vaccinated and boosted. But Crawford said he talked with Hill on Wednesday morning.

“He’s feeling good,” Crawford said. “No major symptoms. He’s ready to come back.”

Those same sources have said close to a dozen people in the organization, including support staff and in the front office, have tested positive in this recent outbreak and multiple members of the broadcast crew.