The Cubs’ quest to reach the 85% vaccination mark
In a year in which they won the division, the first-ever team Gold Glove and boasted the NL Cy Young runner-up, that’s the statistic the Cubs were most proud of — zero.
Zero positive COVID-19 cases by players from the intake process through the end of the season.
At the start of summer camp last year, the Cubs got together in the Wrigley Field stands for a meeting to lay out their guidelines as a team. Everybody bought in and pulled on the same rope all season.
Fast forward to this spring and in some ways, baseball is still in the same world it was back then. The travel protocols for MLB teams are still as strict and now includes the tracker wristbands.
In other ways, baseball is vastly different. It mirrors the world in that sense, as vaccinations have become a part of everyday conversations.
Just before Opening Day, MLB sent a memo explaining how protocols will be relaxed when each team reaches a point where 85% of Tier 1 individuals are fully vaccinated. That includes relaxing protocols on masks and gatherings — both at the field and away from the ballpark.
While some teams around the league have reached that 85% threshold, the Cubs are not quite there yet.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” David Ross said. “Hopeful. … We’re making progress daily. The number’s moving up. I know we’re getting closer.”
The vaccine is available to anybody who wants it among the Cubs’ Tier 1 personnel, which includes staffers and players that are still in Arizona and at the alternate site in South Bend.
Javy Báez shared in a press appearance on April 5th that he got his first shot and will receive his second in the coming weeks.
“I think a lot of people should try it and obviously we want the best for everybody,” Báez said.
Jason Heyward spoke to the media just before the Cubs’ first game of the season and at that point, had not received his first shot yet.
“I think that’s a personal decision, a family decision,” Heyward said. “I know a lot of people with kids have gotten them. Definitely understand that, but also understand the people that haven’t.”
With the players who do want to get the vaccine, the Cubs are trying to get the timing just right. For pitchers, they may opt to receive their shot just after a day they threw, in case they feel any side effects.
The conversation is ongoing within the Cubs clubhouse and team doctors are sharing information daily. Ross and the team understand this is an individual choice and remain hopeful they can reach that 85% number.
“Some guys were hard ‘no’s early and they’ve come around and some guys are still getting information,” Ross said. “Everybody wants to loosen the reigns of the protocols but everyone has different thoughts on it.
“I respect their thoughts and their stance. We just try to continue to give them the right information, find them the research to help them make the best decision for us as a team and them in their life and their careers.”