TAMPA, Fla. — Yankees star Aaron Judge declined to directly answer a question about his vaccination status on Tuesday as New York City required every private sector employee to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I’m still focused on getting to the first game of spring training,” Judge said from the team’s Florida practice complex. “So I think we’ll cross that bridge when the time comes.” But right now, so much could change. So I’m not really too worried about that at the moment.
Much like Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, unvaccinated Yankees and Mets players won’t be allowed to dress at home due to the city’s private employer mandate that went into effect Dec. 27. .
The employer’s mandate is the same everywhere, whether it’s a sports team playing indoors or outdoors. A city hall official who was not authorized to speak officially noted that the start of the season is a month away, too far away to determine what will happen then as the city continues to monitor COVID-19 cases.
The Yankees said in a statement that team president Randy Levine is “working with city hall and all other appropriate officials on this matter.”
“We will have no further comment,” the team added.
The Yankees open their season at home against rival Boston Red Sox on April 7.
Judge is a three-time All-Star and a New York City clubhouse leader. He hit .287 with 39 homers last season and finished fourth in AL MVP voting. He is eligible to become a free agent after this season, although he has expressed a strong interest in signing a long-term contract with New York.
Even if New York’s mandate is lifted, unvaccinated Yankees players will have to sit out the nine games scheduled in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The Government of Canada requires a person to have received a second dose of vaccine – or a dose from Johnson & Johnson – at least 14 days prior to entry.
Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed as part of their new contract last week that unvaccinated players will not be paid for games in Toronto they miss due to the mandate.
New York’s first visit to Toronto is a three-game series that begins May 2.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday he was concerned about the impact on the roster of COVID-19 rules in Toronto.
“It will be interesting to say the least to see how this situation unfolds,” Boone said. “I think we still have at least a few guys who are unvaccinated, so we will be monitoring this situation closely and seeing how it goes. But yes, it is a concern.