Boston Red Sox outfielder Hunter Renfroe made headlines on Wednesday after homering and making a game-ending throw against the Tampa Bay Rays. Renfroe is well-positioned to make headlines again on Thursday, this time for comments he made about how Major League Baseball handled the Red Sox's COVID-19 outbreak.
The Red Sox have had nine players test positive for COVID-19 during their outbreak, including shortstop Xander Bogaerts, outfielder Jarren Duran, starters Nick Pivetta and Martín Pérez, and closer Matt Barnes.
Renfroe was questioned about the situation during an appearance on WEEI's Merloni & Fauria show, hosted by former Red Sox infielder Lou Merloni and New England Patriots tight end Christian Fauria. "MLB basically told us to stop the testing and just treat the symptoms," Renfroe claimed. "We're like 'No. We're gonna figure out what's going on and try to keep this thing under control.'"
Renfroe then reasserted his claim that MLB had requested the Red Sox stop testing for COVID-19 when Merloni asked for confirmation. Here's the exchange in video form:
#RedSox OF Hunter Renfroe on team's COVID issues:— Merloni & Fauria (@MerloniFauria) September 9, 2021
"MLB basically told us to stop the testing and just treat the symptoms. We're like "No. We're gonna figure out what's going and keep this thing under control.""@LouMerloni: MLB asked you to stop testing?
Renfroe: "Yes." pic.twitter.com/0UpKdvqtGG
A Red Sox spokesperson has since issued the following comment to MassLive's Chris Cotillo: "We have been following MLB's COVID-19 protocols all season long. We have consulted closely with them on everything we've done and continue to test and their medical staff has been very supportive."
An MLB spokesperson, meanwhile, issued a following statement to Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe saying Renfroe's claim was "completely wrong and inaccurate."
MLB spokesperson on Hunter Renfroe’s comments to WEEI saying that MLB encouraged the Red Sox to stop testing following their outbreak:— Julian McWilliams (@byJulianMack) September 9, 2021
“He (Renfroe) is completely wrong and inaccurate.”
The Red Sox are known to be one of seven teams who are below the 85 percent vaccination rate for tier-1 individuals (players, coaches, trainers) that would allow for relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.
"It's gut-wrenching," chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom recently said. "Every single one [positive test] has been. We've tried to go to great lengths to keep these sorts of things from happening. And then to see what's happening now, it's really hard. This goes beyond baseball. We feel, and I certainly feel in the chair I sit in, a lot of responsibility to every single person in our traveling party and in our organization. And when our power to prevent something like this from happening and from continuing to happen can only go so far, that's a bad feeling."
Former Marlins president David Samson broke down the Renfroe comments on Friday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Testing only symptomatic individuals is not believed to be an effective way to contain an outbreak. As the CDC notes on its website, "some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus."
The Red Sox were off Thursday before starting a weekend series against the White Sox in Chicago on Friday.