SEATTLE – Yoshihisa Hirano tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Seattle Mariners pitcher said Tuesday, making him the first Japanese major league player confirmed to have contracted the virus.
The Mariners placed the right-handed reliever on the injured list earlier in the day without providing a reason. Hirano signed a one-year deal with Seattle in January after going 9-8 with a 3.47 ERA over two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 36-year-old returned a positive result after undergoing testing per protocols established by Major League Baseball before the team convened for training camp at the beginning of the month.
Hirano practiced on his own at his home in Arizona for roughly three months after baseball shut down over coronavirus concerns in mid-March.
Seattle started its summer camp on July 3 after MLB decided to implement a 60-game season amid the pandemic. The Mariners’ first game is slated for July 24 following the league openers a day earlier.
Instead of a 10-day injured list for position players and 15-day injured list for pitchers, only a 10-day injured list exists for the condensed 2020 season.
The league has also instituted a COVID-19 list, although clubs are not required to announce players have been placed on it due to privacy laws. Any player who tests positive needs two negative tests before being allowed to return.
Hirano made his MLB debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018 after 11 seasons with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. Last season he went 5-5 with a 4.75 ERA and one save in 62 games.