TODAY: Polanco is expected back with the Pirates within a few days, manager Derek Shelton told reporters (including Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).
MAY 8: The Pirates placed Gregory Polanco on the COVID-related injury list on Tuesday, without any specific details (though none are required in COVID situations) given about why Polanco would be missing time. However, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Polanco’s placement was due to a violation of healthy and safety protocols. Polanco “utilized a training service that was outside of the Pirates’ bubble,” according to Mackey’s sources.
It isn’t yet known how long Polanco will be away from the team, or whether or not he’ll face league-mandated punishment for breaking protocol. According to the 2021 Operations Manual, “Any Covered Individuals who are found to have violated the Code of Conduct are subject to potential discipline, including suspension or forfeiture of salary for days spent away from the Club while in mandatory self-isolation or quarantine resulting from the violation.”
In short, a suspension would cost Polanco some game checks (he is earning $11MM this season, as Pittsburgh’s highest-paid player) and it isn’t out of the question that he could also lose some money for the time he has currently missed on the COVID-IL. It remains to be seen how the Pirates, the league, and possibly the MLBPA could approach this situation due to the lack of known information about the exact circumstances of Polanco’s violation.
Polanco tested positive for COVID-19 last July, costing him some time during the Pirates’ Summer Camp and delaying the start of his 2020 season by a few games. Since undergoing shoulder surgery in September 2018, Polanco has hit .197/.263/.369 over 431 plate appearances, missing significant time in 2019 dealing with more shoulder problems. Beyond the shoulder injury and the positive COVID test, Polanco also suffered a wrist fracture in December.