With positive coronavirus tests dominating the news from training camps around baseball, Mike Matheny told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan) Saturday that he also contracted COVID-19 “about a month ago.” The Royals manager said he has recovered fully, though not without first experiencing some symptoms.
“We had a family member test positive, so we knew even before the test because we had exposure, so my wife and I took off and we quarantined just the two of us,” Matheny said. “And it was just the way they said it might happen, about three days [after exposure], I started feeling it. But we laid low and quarantined and stayed away from people and it ran its course. Fortunately I’ve been tested with the right antibody and looking forward now to donating some plasma to help out however we can.”
Owing to the unpredictable nature of the virus, Matheny said his wife Kristin “never had any symptoms and never tested positive,” even though the couple stayed together during the quarantine period. Now, Matheny is at the Royals’ training camp in preparation (after several months of delay) for his first season as Kansas City’s skipper.
While it’s certainly good news that the Mathenys have a clean bill of health, the specter of COVID-19 continues to linger over every team in the league, the Royals included. News broke yesterday that Salvador Perez was quarantining after a positive coronavirus test, and the club announced Friday that longtime coach Rusty Kuntz wouldn’t be coaching first base in the coming season.
The 65-year-old Kuntz is at a greater risk for COVID-19 due to his age, and GM Dayton Moore noted the large amount of travel associated with being part of a baseball team also presented an additional danger. Instead, Kuntz will remain based out of Kansas City, still able to offer coaching and advisory tips to Matheny from the safer distance of a Kauffman Stadium suite.
Damon Hollins will move from his minor league outfield/baserunning coordinator role to take over as first base coach for Kuntz, who returned to the position just this past offseason. Kuntz previously worked as the Royals’ first base coach from 2008-10 and 2012-17, spending the last two seasons as a special assistant to Moore.