Jake Fraley’s flu-like stomach issues that had kept him out of the lineup the first two days of the series at Angel Stadium, instead proved to be symptoms of COVID-19.
On Sunday morning, the Mariners placed Fraley on the COVID-19 injured list and recalled outfielder Dillon Thomas from Class AAA Tacoma.
“Initially, when our guys came back in after the All-Star break they had to get tested,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “The initial tests were negative. Yesterday, we did get a positive test. So Jake Fraley is on the COVID IL. It’s unfortunate, but that’s where we are at.”
With no other player being placed on the COVID-19 IL, Fraley is that positive test, which Servais also confirmed.
“He has symptoms,” Servais said. “He tested positive. As soon as we got heads up on the positive results, I have not talked to him since then. He was back at the hotel and he’s in isolation. Our training staff is staying in contact with him. He is feeling a little bit better, but I have not talked to him personally since I found out this last night.”
While Servais can’t confirm or deny whether a player is vaccinated, multiple MLB sources have said Fraley is one of a handful of Mariners players who has refused to be vaccinated since it was made available in May.
Because he is not vaccinated, he will have to serve a full quarantine before returning from the injured list. Servais believes it will be similar to the time away that relievers Kendall Graveman, Drew Steckenrider and Will Vest had to remain away from the team after a COVID outbreak in late May.
“It’s like a 10-day period and he’ll get tested after the first few days and then daily after that, but he would be isolated away from the team,” Servais said. “That’s what happened when we dealt with this earlier and I’m assuming that protocol will stay in place.”
Fraley, 26, has a .237/.409/.439 slash line with two doubles, seven homers, 23 RBI, seven stolen bases, 33 walks and 38 strikeouts. His .409 on-base percentage is seventh-highest in MLB among players with at least 140 plate appearances this season.
Fraley suffered a torn left hamstring April 6 and didn’t return until May 30. Since then, he’s earned consistent playing time with his patient approach at the plate and solid play in the outfield.
Since returning from the IL, Fraley has a .250/.392/.462 slash line with a double, seven homers, 22 RBI, 25 walks, 35 strikeouts and six stolen bases.
The Mariners, as of now, have no other players forced to quarantine due to contact tracing. But there is some concern that another positive test could arise, particularly from the other players who are not vaccinated.
“Right now, those players who were close to him on the plane were all vaccinated,” Servais said. “But some of the players are on team that are not vaccinated, they are getting tested daily. I think we are OK. But we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
The Yankees had multiple players test positive coming out of the All-Star break, leading to a game being postponed. Servais admitted his concern level is elevated. For a team that is clinging to wild-card hopes, losing multiple players to the COVID IL for any reason would be difficult to withstand.
“It’s relatively high with what’s going on around the league,” he said. “It’s certainly affected other clubs with players coming back after the All-Star break and having an exposure. I think we all see what’s going on around our country. There’s been a spike in the COVID cases and it is concerning. It’s something that we’re not out of the woods and it’s one of the reasons it’s so important, certainly in my opinion, for people to get vaccinated.”