Today, the Chicago White Sox announced that Dylan Cease and Kendall Graveman will both be heading to the restricted list ahead of the team’s trip to Toronto. This is with the assumption being that both pitchers are unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Due to Canada having a strict vaccination policy for visitors, they both will miss out on their one chance this season to visit our neighbors to the north.
What makes this interesting is that back in February, during the lockout, the team announced that all minor leaguers would be required to get the vaccine and booster(s) once eligible. And back before spring training 2021, the team claimed that 100% of its players were vaccinated. If this claim extended to the major league roster (which is uncertain), it would mean Cease was considered fully vaccinated going into last season. Meanwhile, Graveman was on the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros last season, so the White Sox claim would not apply to him.
So does that mean that Cease was never vaccinated? Not necessarily. What is more than likely the case is that he got the first set of vaccines, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and refused a booster shot.
Luckily for the White Sox, Cease was not scheduled to pitch in Toronto, anyway, as he just pitched this past Sunday (actually, it’s not luck, the White Sox obviously are aware of Cease’s status and set up the rotation so he could avoid Canada entirely).
But then there’s Graveman, who has been solid in the bullpen. Due to his decision, the Sox lose one of their best late-game options throughout this three-game series. This is when you have to start thinking about the potential for this situation to come up during a playoff series in October. It would not be ideal for the team’s best starter so far and one of the better relievers on the team to be unavailable for three or four games because they decided that they did not care about potentially catching or spreading a deadly virus.
In a league where everyone loves to preach about how to be a good teammate, one of the simplest things that these two can do to prove that they are is use the time they will have off this week to go get vaccinated.
On Monday, Kyle Crick was called up to the White Sox to replace Graveman. Cease, as a start who pitched within four days of the White Sox traveling to Canada, is not allowed to be replaced on the roster. However, Crick will be joined by Luis Robert, who was activated out of COVID-IL protocols to replace Tim Anderson, who went on the IL with a hamstring strain.