Aroldis Chapman Cleared to Return to Yankees After Bout With Coronavirus


NEW YORK — Aroldis Chapman is closing in on his return to the back of the Bombers' bullpen.

After testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, the left-hander rejoined the Yankees on Friday ahead of the club's home opener.

Chapman was placed on the COVID-19 injured list on July 11, exhibiting mild symptoms. He was the only member of the Yankees' roster to test positive for the coronavirus during New York's Summer Camp at Yankee Stadium.

Manager Aaron Boone hadn't seen Chapman yet at the ballpark when he addressed the meeting Friday afternoon, saying he'll need to wait until he can see Chapman throw to evaluate his status.

"Hopefully he'll be able to come and play catch today and try and get an idea of just where exactly he's at," Boone said. "We all know Chappy and how much of a workout freak [he is] and how well he takes care of himself and we're able even to see some of that on Instagram over the time he was away."

In order to return from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, a player must test negative two times in a row. That was the case for infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-handed reliever Luis Cessa, who have both rejoined the team after contracting the virus prior to training camp.

While LeMahieu was able to return to the Yankees' starting lineup promptly after rejoining the club at camp, Chapman will need some time to build back up to being in game condition.

Take Cessa's recovery for example. The right-hander was cleared on July 19 and has yet to make his debut this season.

"The good thing was he was never really sick so he was able to really maintain probably a level of physical conditioning that some people wouldn't otherwise be able to," Boone said. "I'm hopeful that you know he's probably a little further ahead of the game than some other people would normally be."

In quarantine, Chapman was unable to throw with a partner, but Boone explained the flamethrower used a "contraption" that allowed him to throw in his apartment.

"This glove thing that you're able to throw, and he was actually throwing in his apartment — like full on throwing," Boone explained. "You throw it in a sock and I don't know the technology, I haven't experienced it, but it's pretty interesting. So he was able to at least do a lot physically."

In Chapman's absence, Zack Britton has been filling in as the Yankees' closer. The veteran left-hander has tallied a pair of saves through the club's first five games of the regular season — including one against the Orioles on Thursday night.

Chapman is a six-time All-Star with 273 saves in his 10-year career. He was recognized as the American League Reliever of the Year in 2019, recording 37 saves.

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