Some athletes and other individuals associated with professional sports franchises are currently deciding whether or not they'll jump at opportunities to receive COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible, but such shots are not available to everyone.
Thus, one couldn't blame New York Yankees fans for fearing the worst upon hearing that slugger Aaron Judge missed three straight spring training days with an unknown illness. All can breathe easy, per Bill Ladson of the MLB website and Dan Martin of the New York Post, because the two-time All-Star is on track to play in Thursday's Opening Day matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays.
"Judge is going through the normal ... [COVID-19] environment," New York general manager Brian Cashman explained while adding that high pollen counts in Tampa were responsible for Judge's recent absences. "Any little issue that is conveyed, you kind of react [as if it is an emergency]. We just sent him through the protocols and thankfully, we eliminated all the stuff other than the fact that every now and then, you could come up with not feeling really well. But he is fine."
While COVID-19 concerns will inevitably be on the minds of outsiders whenever an athlete curiously misses time this spring or summer, Judge also has a lengthy injury history that impacted him over each of the past two years and limited him to just 28 regular-season games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
In late February, Judge noted that he had altered his offseason activities in an attempt to avoid injury setbacks.
With spring training completed, BetOnline.ag lists the Yankees as favorites at +260 to represent the American League in the 2021 World Series and +550, behind only the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers (+300), to win the Fall Classic.