Ramírez, Reyes return to Indians after COVID-19 missteps

CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians third baseman José Ramírez and slugger Franmil Reyes have rejoined the team after being banned for breaking COVID-19 protocols.

The players tested negative for the virus on Tuesday and were back at the team’s facility in Goodyear, Arizona. They are scheduled to play in Wednesday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Angels.

Ramírez and Reyes had been isolated at their temporary spring training homes since Saturday after they went out to dinner indoors, a behavior that violated virus guidelines set last season by Major League Baseball and the players’ union.

Indians manager Terry Francona said the team followed the guidelines and reported the violation.

It’s the second time Reyes has broken the rules. Last year, he attended a July Fourth party without wearing a mask and the team learned of his violation from a social media posting.

On Friday, Reyes went to get a haircut after the Indians played the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game in Mesa, Arizona, and then he and Ramírez joined others for dinner.

It’s not known if Ramírez and Reyes will face further discipline from the Indians. The team had a similar situation last season when right-handers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger broke team rules by going to dinner when the team was in Chicago.

The team put both players on the restricted list and sent them to the Indians’ alternate training site. Clevinger was traded a few weeks later to San Diego.

Plesac had little to say about the recent violations.

“We’re just excited to have them back. I know they’re ready to come back and put their full effort in. I’ll leave it at that,” he said Monday after pitching three innings against Seattle. “We’re going to continue to have their back and work hard.”

Ramírez is Cleveland’s best all-around player. He finished second in AL MVP voting last season after batting .292 with 17 homers and 46 RBIs in 58 games.

Reyes will be the Indians’ full-time designated hitter this season. He hit nine homers with 34 RBIs last season. In 2019, he hit 37 homers combined for Cleveland and San Diego.

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