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Chicago Cubs president: Lack of team vaccinations ‘disappointing’

Apr 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer looks on during batting practice before the Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer looks on during batting practice before the Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs haven’t reached the 85 percent vaccination rate for COVID-19, and Chicago Cubs president Jed Hoyer said that puts the team at a competitive disadvantage.

Once a team’s Tier 1 personnel has reached that 85 percent milestone, Major League Baseball health and safety protocols are relaxed. That includes eliminating the need of a player to be away from the team for contact tracing.

“It’s irrefutable. The more players are vaccinated, and therefore you eliminate the contact-tracing element of (protocols), it eliminates risk,” Hoyer said before the Cubs met the Washington Nationals on Thursday afternoon. “So eliminating risk is a competitive advantage.”

While Hoyer didn’t disclose how many players and staff members in the group were unvaccinated, he implied the team remains far off. About half of MLB’s 32 teams have achieved the mark.

“Being transparent about it, we’re not a player away from being 85 percent,” he said. “It’s just a disappointing thing that we will have anxieties and restrictions that others don’t. That few days we had (in April), scratching Kyle (Hendricks) before a start when he was congested, and when (coaches) Chris Young and (Craig) Driver had it. Going through all that, it was a pretty horrible feeling, a helpless feeling, and the fact we weren’t able to eliminate that is disappointing.

“Injuries can be avoidable, but sometimes they’re not. Your season can get derailed when you have injuries, and that’s part of this job, but I feel this is one that can be avoided, and we’re not able to avoid it.”

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He said his optimism about reaching the milestone is “waning.”

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta has been outspoken about the vaccine.

“I don’t necessarily see that as a competitive advantage or a disadvantage,” Arrieta said. “I know we do have a lot of guys vaccinated. We have not had any cases in the past month, so we’re doing OK as a group. We’re being careful about where we go and who we’re around. I know from my experience, I’m hanging around my teammates and my family and that’s it. I think my chances of coming into contact with COVID-19 are extremely low, based on the people that I spend time with.”

Cubs shortstop Javier Baez thinks the opposite about the need for the vaccine. He recently took part in Walgreens’ “This Is Our Shot” campaign.

“The people that maybe didn’t believe in it, I think they will,” Baez told the Chicago Tribune. “And that’s what it’s all about. We want to be safe out there. We obviously want to end this pandemic. The smart thing to do right now is to get vaccinated.”

–Field Level Media