2020 AL Cy Young Award Shane Bieber Tests Positive for COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2021

Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber smiles walking to the dugout in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Cleveland ace Shane Bieber tested positive for COVID-19, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti announced Thursday. 

Antonetti told reporters the 2020 American League Cy Young winner experienced "very, very mild symptoms" and is expected back soon once he completes the league's return protocols.

Bieber made 12 appearances last season, going 8-1 with a 1.53 ERA and a 2.07 FIP, per FanGraphs.

Cleveland opens its spring training slate Feb. 28 against the Cincinnati Reds.

Even if Bieber is cleared to return to the mound with plenty of time to prepare for the regular season, he could still potentially feel the effects of COVID-19 long after his recovery.

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum told reporters earlier this week he doesn't think he has made a full recovery with more than a month gone since being diagnosed.

"Just running up and down the court a few times, it's easier to get out of breath or tired a lot faster," Tatum said. "I've noticed that since I've had COVID. It's just something I'm working on."

As Cleveland heads into the 2021 campaign, it will be relying heavily on Bieber to anchor the starting rotation.

Daryl Ruiter @RuiterWrongFAN

Chris Antonetti asked how can #Indians still compete within their current economic climate? "Shane Bieber and Jose Ramirez"

The team tied for 26th in weighted on-base average (.303) in 2020, per FanGraphs, and proceeded to decline Carlos Santana's option and trade Francisco Lindor (along with Carlos Carrasco) to the New York Mets. Signing Eddie Rosario doesn't help cover all of the production Cleveland lost, so its offense might be even worse.

Unless it has the best pitching staff in baseball, Cleveland could miss the playoffs for the second time in three years.