Royals outfielder Hunter Dozier will open the season on the coronavirus-specific injured list. The club announced that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
This is obviously quite disappointing (and rather worrisome) news to receive, particularly on the eve of Opening Day. Dozier will be sidelined until he’s able to clear the virus from his system and register two positive tests. He says he is experiencing some symptoms. Hopefully, he’s able to make a swift and full recovery.
It’s concerning also that Dozier has been active with his teammates this week. He has obviously been isolated since receiving the test results, but it’s hypothetically possible he could’ve transmitted the virus to others in the organization before that time. It isn’t yet known if any other personnel came into such close contact with Dozier that isolation will be required.
Dozier, who’ll soon turn 29, entered 2020 hoping to build on a breakout effort last year. The first-round pick finally made good on his original promise, turning in a .279/.348/.522 batting line with 26 home runs and a league-leading ten triples over 586 plate appearances. While he benefited from a lofty .339 BABIP, Dozier backed it up with excellent exit velocity and sprint speed.
The news will dent Dozier’s earning abilities after the season, when he’ll qualify for arbitration for the first time. And it’ll hurt the Royals’ hopes for a surprise run in 2020. The added opportunity will open the door for a variety of other players for at least a few weeks. The newly acquired Franchy Cordero should be in line for significant action, with players such as Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips perhaps also seeing increased chances.