Yoán Moncada is a 25-year-old professional athlete. But that hasn't made him immune from the effects of the virus that's gripped the planet, and continues to grip the United States, this year.
The White Sox third baseman revealed Thursday that he's been slowed by the after effects of the COVID-19 infection he experienced earlier this summer. Moncada was one of two White Sox players to test positive upon arriving to Chicago for "Summer Camp" at the beginning of July, and he missed the first two weeks of the three-week ramp up to Opening Day.
Moncada said when he returned from his stay on the injured list that the only symptoms he experienced were a loss of his senses of smell and taste. He answered questions about whether he'd be able to be physically ready for the start of the season, making the Opening Day roster, starting at third base in the season-opener and getting off to a nice start at the plate.
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But all along, he admitted, he has not felt like the same elite athlete who blossomed into one of the game's young stars last season.
"Definitely my body hasn’t felt the same after the virus," he said Thursday through team interpreter Billy Russo. "I feel a lack of energy, strength, it’s just a weird feeling. It’s different.
"When I got to Chicago, before I tested positive, I was feeling strong and with energy. Now, it’s like a daily battle to try to find that strength, that energy to go through the day.
"But that’s something that I have to deal with, and it is what it is. I have to find a way to get through it."
On top of that, Moncada has been bothered by a persistent leg issue that's kept him out of several games as the team tries to manage things to make sure he can be on the field as much as possible. Moncada, obviously, is an important piece of the White Sox lineup as the team chases after the franchise's first postseason berth in more than a decade.
With both the apparently draining after effects of the virus and the issue with his leg, it's becoming rather obvious why Moncada hasn't looked like his normal self for the bulk of this season. He's been spotted sort of hobbling his way into first base when running down the line and has looked similarly affected in other on-field moments. He hasn't produced anywhere near where he did a season ago, entering play Thursday with a .248/.338/.421 slash line.
There were many takeaways from Moncada revealing that this has been bothering him, chief among them that there are still so many unknowns when it comes to the long-term effects of the virus, that even young and healthy people can be seriously affected and that the pandemic and those serious health effects, despite what some government leaders might have said or continue to say, is very, very real. But also, hyper-attentive fans watching the White Sox first winning season in years should not be evaluating the third baseman on the same scale they are looking at everyone else.
"These guys don’t normally talk to you about some of the things they’re going through, they just try to go out there," manager Rick Renteria said. "I know it’s hard, but he’s going to continue doing what he’s doing, trying to get through everything he can.
"Whatever he dealt with or is dealing with is obviously real. So we’ll make sure he’s feeling good, as good as can be expected, run him out there and hope he can contribute to this club.
"These guys are going to do the best they possibly can under any circumstance. As most men do in daily life, there are men grinding, getting up, not feeling too good and going to work, and obviously this is a very highly skilled vocation in terms of playing Major League Baseball. Not everyone can do it.
"People might question why he might not be doing something here or there, but in the end, we know where they’re at."