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Astros place five players on COVID-19 injured list

Even with players being partially vaccinated, COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on baseball and sports in general.

League Championship - Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros - Game Four Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers, the Astros placed five players on the COVID-19 injured list: José Altuve, Yordan Álvarez, Alex Bregman, Robel García, and Martín Maldonado. Maldonado pinch-hit for Altuve in the ninth inning of Houston’s 8-2 loss to the Astros on Tuesday night, though GM James Click said Wednesday that the odd move and the placement of Altuve on the IL for health and safety protocol reasons were unrelated.

The Astros began receiving COVID-19 vaccines, and manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday that all five players placed on the IL had received at least one vaccine shot. But teams must reach a threshold of 85% of the traveling party being fully vaccinated — that includes a two-week waiting period after the first Johnson & Johnson shot or after the second Moderna or Pfizer shot — before protocols can be relaxed and vaccinated players no longer have to quarantine when they’re deemed to be a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

It appears likely that at least some of these placements are strictly due to contact tracing, as Click said there was no health and safety reason not to play Wednesday’s game, and considering the partially vaccinated status of the Astros players — as well as Álvarez already having dealt with COVID last season — this is hopefully a case where it won’t develop into a legitimate outbreak.