Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen reported to camp today—as first reported by Pedro Moura of The Athletic—rejoining his team after a positive test for COVID-19 prevented him from participating in Dodgers workouts to this point. It was previously unknown why Jansen had yet to arrive at Dodger Stadium, but he confirmed today that he indeed tested positive for the virus. Evidently, he has since passed the two tests necessary to permit him to return to action.
Jansen told reporters including MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick that he expects to be ready for the Dodgers’ July 23 matchup with the Giants to kick off the season. With Opening Day less than two weeks away, that seems like an ambitious goal for a pitcher who has thus far been unable to train with his team in Spring Training 2.0, but the build-up to game shape might be less steep for a bullpen pitcher like Jansen, who’s been throwing consistently during the baseball stoppage.
Should Jansen need more to time to recover, the Dodgers’ deep bullpen should give them options to deploy in the ninth inning in place of Jansen: Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen are accomplished veteran relievers who could pick up the slack for a time.
Jansen, 32, has dealt with heart issues in the past, though he’s said that those problems have not influenced his intent to play in the shortened 2020 season. Last year was arguably Jansen’s worst season since arriving in MLB in 2010. For the better part of a decade, he was one of the most dominant relievers in the sport, though declining velocity has troubled him in recent years. As 2020 gets underway, we will cross our fingers for a healthy, bounce-back season from Jansen.