KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Royals infielder/outfielder Hunter Dozier will start the season on the injured list after the club announced Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19.
Dozier, 28, is coming off a breakout 2019 season in which he batted .279/.348/.522 with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also tied for the major league lead with 10 triples and finished with 29 doubles last season.
“I’m disappointed to say the least,” Dozier said in a statement from the Royals. “I have been hit with a couple of symptoms that go with the virus, so I need to follow our medical team’s direction, get well and then work on getting back on the field. It’s disheartening because I felt things were going well on the field and I have a good feeling about the ball club we have. To have to watch for whatever period of time that I’m out is going to painful.”
Dozier did not play in Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium, but he did start in right field during Monday's exhibition.
Dozier's absence to start the season season could open up playing time for newly acquired Franchy Cordero, who was part of the trade that sent Tim Hill to San Diego, or returning veteran outfielders Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling.
He is the eighth Royals player to test positive for the virus. New manager Mike Matheny also said he had the coronavirus before the season.
Two Royals starting pitchers, Brad Keller and Jakob Junis, will begin 2020 on the injured list as they continue to recover from COVID-19.
Catcher Salvador Perez, who was the first player at Summer Camp to test positive for COVID-19, has returned to the Royals.
First baseman Ryan O'Hearn, catchers Cam Gallagher and Nick Dini, and left-hander Daniel Tillo also have tested positive for the coronavirus.