Indians outfielder Franmil Reyes was kept away from the team for a few days following the discovery that he was around some people during the Fourth of July weekend without a mask.
Manager Terry Francona stressed a few days ago that Reyes did nothing egregious, and that he wasn't being punished. The team was choosing to keep Reyes away from the ballpark for a few days to undergo additional testing rather than risk a larger group.
Reyes passed a medical exam and was back at the ballpark Wednesday afternoon, belting a few pitches into the bleacher seats in left field. On Thursday, the first time he spoke with local reporters since summer camp began, Reyes on multiple occasions apologized for causing the disruption.
"You know what? They did the right thing. They have to do to protect us," Reyes said via a Zoom call. "I really apologize, because I was not protecting myself and my teammates. I learned from it and it won't happen again. I really don't want to stop practicing. I really apologize about that."
The Indians do hope that it can be a learning moment. Players, coaches and staff members taking personal responsibility seriously at and away from the ballpark has become one of the most important factors to this season.
Whether Major League Baseball can get through a 60-game season and a postseason without COVID-19 derailing the plans remains to be seen. Being diligent, as Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti has put it, is one of the key factors to making it a possibility.
"Of course. It's really important to protect ourselves when you go out there," Reyes said. "Not just thinking about you, you have a lot of teammates here that are ready to go, ready to give their 100 percent for the season and it's really risky when people do the things I was doing on Saturday. So, I really apologize and I swear it won't happen again."
Reyes spent much of his quarantine in the Dominican Republic working on his defense in the outfield. That has been a focus of the Indians' all spring in an effort to have some added lineup flexibility. Reyes being able to at least handle himself in left field or right field would allow Domingo Santana to slide in as the primary designated hitter. Reyes said he believes he made strides with his defensive work while the league was shut down.
"That was most of the things I was working on in the Dominican," Reyes said. "Before, I didn't have the opportunity to practice by myself because there were a bunch of players in the Dominican. But with this quarantine, it keeps everybody at home. I had the opportunity to use the field in my town and practice by myself."
Reyes said he lost 18 pounds this offseason in an effort to slim down in anticipation of the added workload in the outfield. Coming into spring training, he added that he felt more powerful than ever. Reyes hasn't yet been able to put that into action.
"Honestly, since spring training ended and I went to the Dominican, I didn't see a pitcher since then," Reyes said. "The first day that we practiced and I saw a pitcher, that was the first pitcher I had seen and I honestly felt so good. I know I have to keep working to get my timing again, but with this couple days before the season starts, I know I'm gonna feel better and I'm going to do the same things I was doing last year and in spring training, too. I really worked hard in the offseason for it and I feel really good, honestly."
And the good news is that he says he isn't craving sweets or desserts as much as he was in the spring.
"Nah. Not anymore. I feel good," Reyes said. "My body says 'Nah, no more.' "
(c)2020 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.