Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen reported to camp for the first time on Sunday and announced in a Zoom conference call with reporters that he was delayed in reporting to camp because he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Jansen said he believes he contracted the virus from his son, Kaden. He said Kaden showed symptoms, including a fever of over 102 degrees, and that his wife suggested everyone in the family get tested for COVID-19. Jansen said both of his children and wife, Gianni, tested positive initially, but that his first test was negative. One day later, he also tested positive.
Jansen has had a previous history of heart issues, previously being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. He said his doctor deemed him at a "moderate risk" and he immediately went on a strict, low-sodium diet with no dairy in order to lower his blood pressure.
Despite his previous issues and being deemed "moderate risk," by a cardiologist, Jansen said he never considered opting out of the 2020 season.
"I never had that consideration," he said. "I always wanted to play. I love this game. I wanted to do it for the fans. We're all going through a tough time right now together. This can be a good thing for not only the Dodger fans, but baseball fans around the world to have something to watch on TV."
Through Major League Baseball's protocols, Jansen had two negative tests in over 24 hours in order to be cleared to report to the Dodgers summer camp at Dodger Stadium. He added that he first tested positive a little over three weeks ago, but did not want the team to go public with the news out of respect for his teammates.
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"I told the training staff that I wanted to keep it a little bit private," said Jansen. "I didn't want it to be a distraction. I wanted my guys [teammates] to get ready."
Jansen said he was "doing better now," and was excited to be back playing baseball and around his teammates. However, he cautioned the public to take the coronavirus seriously.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts earlier in the week had hinted that Jansen might have had the coronavirus. He told reporters that he had spoken to Jansen and that he "was in good spirits and feeling good." Neither Roberts or the team is specifically allowed to announce a COVID-19 related injury for a player after testing positive per MLB rules.
Roberts added to that on Sunday saying it was Jansen's "story to tell." Roberts did indicate his plans for his closer with just 11 days before Opening Day. Roberts said the plan is for Jansen to make four appearances in the intrasquad scrimmages before the regular season starts on July 23.
Prior to practicing on Sunday, Jansen had a message to everyone about his coronavirus experience.
"It's real," Jansen said. "Everyone in the world, just take it serious. Wear your mask at all times, if you can. Because, trust me, it happens so fast. Once my son got it, I've seen how fast it can spread. We tried to do everything, but we all got it in the house."