Jonathan Loaisiga Eager to Return to Yankees' Bullpen After Case of COVID-19

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NEW YORK — Jonathan Loaisiga had big plans for the All-Star break, preparing to fly home to Nicaragua to see his family and take advantage of a few days off.

His itinerary quickly changed, however, when the reliever tested positive for COVID-19 during New York's series in Houston against the Astros. 

"When the test comes back positive, it's shocking," Loaisiga said Wednesday through the Yankees' interpreter. "You feel sad because it was a clear opportunity to go see family for a couple days. Unfortunately, God had different plans."

Rather than linking back up with his relatives in his home country, Loaisiga was relegated to his room, quarantining in Austin, Texas. Loaisiga was cooped up inside until the final three days of his stint away from the big-league club, finally getting to work out and play catch with Wandy Peralta, another Yankees reliever that landed on the COVID-19 injured list.

"Very bored," Loaisiga said, cracking a smile. "A lot of video games, a lot of TV series. My back was hurting just from my laying down in bed so much."

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The right-hander added that it was frustrating watching his team compete without him. He was anxious to get back to the bullpen where he's been having a career year in pinstripes.

"It's been a really good season for me and you never want to step away from the game, but at the same time, you've got to look at the positive of all this," he said. "We've been doing a really good job out of the bullpen and working a lot of innings so you've got to take these two weeks that I was out as a way to rest and come back stronger."

Loaisiga posted a 2.11 ERA over 36 appearances (47 innings) in the first half of the regular season, striking out 46 batters. He's continued to blossom as a rising star out of the 'pen, distinguishing himself as one of the most dynamic and reliable options at manager Aaron Boone's disposal.

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Boone expects Loaisiga to be available again as early as this weekend in Boston, the start of a road trip that extends through the Trade Deadline. The right-hander tossed a bullpen at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and in a few days, the club will decide if he needs to throw to live hitters or finalize his progression on his own.

"From there on, just kind of wait and see what the team decides to do," Loaisiga said. "Overall feel really good doing this bullpen today."

Loaisiga was in good spirits, happy to be back with his teammates, but the job at hand is clear. He's eager to get back on the mound and continue to dominate, helping his team win ballgames.

"Hopefully I can pick up where I left and start helping the team the same way I was doing it before."

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