DJ LeMahieu was shocked when he was told he had tested positive for COVID-19. The Yankees second baseman had gone to get the test on his own in his native Michigan after he had come in contact with someone who had tested positive. He was fairly confident he would test negative and with that then be able to go see his father before heading to New York for this season.
“I had been in contact with someone who’s positive and so I just got a test just because I wanted to see my dad, but I didn’t want to see him until I got tested,” said LeMahieu who spoke to reporters for the first time Saturday. “I tested positive and got a call four or five days later and obviously was really shocked.”
Despite testing positive about three weeks ago, LeMahieu said he never had any symptoms. He said he needed 11 to 12 tests (every other day) to get the requisite series of negative tests that would allow him to break his quarantine and come to New York and join the rebooted spring training.
“It was frustrating because I was feeling 100% normal and still every morning I wake up at seven o’clock to see the result and it was positive,” LeMahieu said.
Now, the 32-year-old has five days to get ready for a season that has been shortened to 60 games by the virus. He said that he wouldn’t rule out being ready for Opening Day on Thursday in Washington D.C., but if he wasn’t in that lineup, he expected to be in the first few days.
“I think it’s a possibility,” LeMahieu said. “I don’t know if it’s realistic or not. I think that’s gonna be up to the trainers and to [manager Aaron Boone], but I think I’m gonna be pretty close. If it’s not Opening Day, it’ll definitely be the first few games. ... We’ll see how these few days go and for me, it’s just going to be the live at bats. The more I can get, the more ready I can be.”
LeMahieu spent the majority of the three-and-a-half month hiatus down in Tampa, where he worked out regularly at George M. Steinbrenner Field, but now he needs to get back that timing and focus on the approach to major league pitching.
“So physically, I feel pretty good,” LeMahieu said. “It’s just gonna be kind of the timing and then ramping up for nine innings physically.”
LeMahieu said he was able to hit off a tee and do some work during his quarantine, because he didn’t suffer any symptoms. He understands, however, that he was lucky. While LeMahieu said that his positive test never made him consider opting out of this season.
“No, no, no, I was just waiting to get those negatives so I could come here,” LeMahieu said “It was just a shocking news to get that, but you know it’s definitely a scary thing you know when you when you have something that there’s no cure for."
LeMahieu said he got support from teammates and family during his quarantine, but said he “couldn’t be more excited to be back.”
But he understands the risk and respects any player who opted out this season or is wearing a mask on the field.
“For me I think this game is really, really hard to wear a mask ... but the guys who are wearing it I definitely respect,” LeMahieu said. “I think it’s a very safe environment. ... Being here for a couple days I think it’s about as safe as it can get, but at the same time guys are going back to their families and to wear a mask, I got no problem with that and I got no problem with guys opting out either.
“I know how scary this thing is,” LeMahieu said. “Everyone’s going back to their families or loved ones and I respect those guys that are going above and beyond just staying protected and trying to keep those around them healthy.”
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