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Coronavirus cost Phil Nevin the chance to see his son make his major league debut. The COVID-19 vaccine and the observations of his teammates, however, give him a chance to see the next one. The Yankees third base coach returned to the dugout Friday night after missing nearly five weeks of game battling the infection.
“It was a little bit of a grind, but people have been through worse. I know,” an emotional Nevin said before Friday night’s series opener against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. “I lost 22 pounds in the process and am trying to get that stuff, back but it’s really good to be back and around the guys. That to me is the hardest part. I’m used to FaceTime at home with the girls and watching my boys play on the computer wherever they’re at.
“But this is my family.”
It was more than a grind. Doctors found the staph infection was affecting his kidneys and liver after pitching coach Matt Blake noticed Nevin was worse off than the rest of the Yankees who had experienced breakthrough cases of COVID-19. Nevin, who is asthmatic, was concerned about his lungs.
But the emergency doctors and the pulmonologist in Tampa who cared for him are convinced the vaccine protected his lungs.
“I wasn’t, so to speak, an anti-vaxxer or anything like that,” Nevin said. “I talked to doctors and I understood what it was that it would help me as far as my asthma and things like that and what it meant for the guys. So like I said, I wasn’t an anti guy, but I just wasn’t sure if I would have gotten it if I wasn’t in baseball.
“But getting it certainly, and learning this process through this last few weeks, is what it did for me,” Nevin continued. “I would certainly encourage anybody that asked me, I would say to absolutely get it.”
Nevin is still battling the infection. He has a port in his arm, which he hopes is removed at a checkup on Monday. He cannot be cleared to return to coaching third base until that happens.
He was also unable to travel to Chicago last weekend when his son Tyler, a first baseman in the Orioles system, was called up and made his major league debut. He was watching from home.
“To not be there for that probably hurt the most,” Nevin said, choking up. “I’ve had to deal with [Brian Cashman] each year I signed my contracts that I’ll be able to leave and go see [Tyler’s] first big league game. I had a great seat. I mean on the couch, I saw his first at-bat, he hit the double off Dallas Kuechel. Probably a better vantage point where I was watching. I could see his approach like a dad coach, but not to be able to see him right after the game. That part gets me a little bit, because we’ve talked about it for so long.
“I told my other son ‘I can still get this day back, you know. No pressure,’” Nevin said with a laugh, “but that part was rough.”
Aaron Boone, who has been friends with Nevin since growing up in southern California together, reiterated that there is a chance that he will get to see Tyler play in the big leagues again. There is also a chance “he’ll coach a lot of games against him,” over the next few years, the Yankees manager said.