The SF Giants have not had their director of pitching Brian Bannister with the team this season because of his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report by Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. Unvaccinated, Bannister has been prohibited from working in-person with the team by MLB's COVID guidelines this season. Instead, Bannister has only been able to interface with players at the team facilities via text message, video, or phone calls.
While vaccine refusal has been a prominent storyline throughout MLB over the past two years, the Giants have been one of the most pro-vaccine organizations in the league. San Francisco's president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler have both been very outspoken about trying to create an environment that encourages every member of the organization to get vaccinated. Most have complied, but Bannister has not.
In a conversation with Baggarly, Zaidi acknowledged the challenges that Bannister's decision created for the organization. However, he said that the team views Bannister as too valuable a member of the coaching staff to be let go. “We’ve been committed to figuring out a way to keep him involved," Zaidi said. "The logistical realities of the situation underscore how valuable and important we think he is. It’s just something we’ll have to continue to manage.”
Of course, as McCovey Chronicles pointed out on Twitter, it seems hard to envision Bannister has been able to fulfill the duties of his job without joining the team.
Baggarly asked Zaidi to address concerns of a double standard between the organization's insistence on vaccines as opposed to their decision to retain Bannister. Zaidi never really addressed the question. "The human population does not have 100 percent consensus on pretty much anything," he told Baggarly. "So when you’re dealing with a certain issue, you try to build consensus and once you know it’s not going to be reached in unanimity, you try to handle the situation as best you can."
The SF Giants have Brian Bannister under contract through at least next season. If MLB does not change its current COVID policies, the organization might need to reconsider Bannister's position or at least shift him to a more advisory role so their director of pitching can work with the pitching staff in person going forward.