New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone says he recently received COVID-19 vaccine, encourages players to do same once eligible

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he received the COVID-19 vaccine last week, and he will encourage his players and staff to do so once they are eligible.

"I got vaccinated about a week ago. And I'll definitely encourage our guys to get it," Boone said after the Yankees' 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in a spring training game Wednesday afternoon. "There's talk of more of us being able to get it. It does seem like it's starting to happen more, especially with some younger population and healthier population. Hopefully, it's something that will be available to us in mass."

Boone, 47, did not specify what type of vaccine he received, or whether he would need a second dose. He had open-heart surgery in 2009, and he took a brief medical leave of absence in early March to receive a pacemaker.

New York State has extended vaccine availability to all individuals with comorbidities and underlying conditions, as well as all New Yorkers 50 and older.

When asked whether he would use his platform as manager of the Yankees to encourage non-players to get the vaccine, Boone replied that the decision is a personal one.

"I don't know if I'd necessarily take that position. Because in the end, I think it's an individual decision," Boone said. "Certainly, when I'm asked about it, and when I talk to our guys, I'll certainly encourage it. But I don't feel like it's my place to tell somebody."

Houston's Dusty Baker, the oldest manager in the majors at 71, confirmed he had been vaccinated at the beginning of spring training. Baker acknowledged that he changed his mind after having hesitations about the vaccine because of the Tuskegee Experiment, an unethical study of untreated syphilis that went on for 40 years and was conducted on Black men without the benefit of patients' informed consent.

"I know it's a kind of touchy situation. A lot of people don't trust the vaccine," Baker said in mid-February. "You do what you've got to do. But my suggestion was for those that are on the fence, get the vaccine."

In a statement Wednesday, Major League Baseball said it "strongly encourages Club personnel to undergo vaccination once respective state regulations allow access. We welcome the chance to use our platform to promote the safety of the vaccine and to encourage our fans to get vaccinated."

The Astros, as well as the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks, are some of the major league teams hoping their players and staff will all have access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the next few weeks.

On Wednesday, the state of Arizona expanded vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older. Texas is set to do the same beginning Monday, and the governor of Missouri said last week the state will open vaccine eligibility to all adults on April 9.

Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said he would encourage all personnel to be vaccinated.

"That's great news for Missourians. And I am hopeful that we will be able to secure the vaccine for our players, because, obviously, that would be helpful as we try to enter into this season," Mozeliak said in a videoconference call late Wednesday afternoon. "For now, though, definitely want to have a sense of which players would be interested in this. And, ultimately, I do hope the majority of our players do go down the path of getting the vaccine. I know when I get the opportunity, I'm going to be there."