NEW YORK — Brad Brach revealed he missed the entirety of Mets summer camp because he tested positive for COVID-19 during the team’s intake testing process. He returned to Citi Field on Saturday for the first time since early July and threw a bullpen session in hopes of joining the active roster soon.
Brach’s wife — while 36 weeks pregnant with twins — tested positive, too. Brach and his wife had “pretty mild” cases, and she later safely gave birth to two healthy sons. But the odyssey he took to simply throw a bullpen session on Saturday was, at times, frightening. And he’s not sure how his body will handle the forthcoming ramp-up period.
“That was pretty scary,” Brach said. “We had twin boys, so you just don’t know how it’s going to affect them … But I’m just glad my wife is feeling good and the boys are safe.”
The 34-year-old reliever felt good as he set out on his 13-hour drive from Nashville, Tenn., to New York for the Mets’ intake testing at Citi Field, just before camp began on July 3. He took the saliva test and went about his day. He ate a sandwich for lunch, but Brach couldn’t taste or smell anything. That’s when his stomach dropped. He knew that was a telltale sign of COVID-19.
The next day he took a nasal swab at Citi Field, which revealed his positive results sooner than the saliva test.
“It’s frustrating more than anything else,” Brach said. “Me and Steven Matz and a few of the other guys in the Nashville area put in a lot of work to be ready, and then to have all that washed away here in these last two-three weeks is frustrating.”
Brach lost his taste for 12-14 days, and felt the worst of his COVID-19 symptoms for two to three days. At first, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to see the birth of his child. But after 14 days passed of Brach and his wife testing positive, their doctor allowed him to be in the hospital room.
“It was nice to be home and help my wife get settled back in for life with three kids,” he said.
In an effort to ramp-up Brach while sidelined with COVID-19, the Mets supplied the right-hander with a weighted ball bag that he was able to throw in his hotel room. When he got tired of that, Brach went to nearby parks that were empty and threw his bag of baseballs into a fence.
Brach was able to maintain good shape, and he hopes his Saturday bullpen session will help springboard him into the next phase of his return. He plans to throw another bullpen session and if he feels good, the next step will involve facing live hitters. But Brach is uncertain when exactly he will return to the active roster, and for his own mental sanity, he’d rather not circle a date on the calendar just yet.
“It’s tough to put a timeline on it because I just don’t know if there are going to be any repercussions from having COVID or anything with the arm, not being able to throw 100 percent for three weeks,” Brach said. “I’m just kind of taking it day by day.”
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