Detroit Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter tests positive for COVID-19

Detroit Free Press

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TAMPA, Fla. — Detroit Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter tested positive for COVID-19 and will be away from the team “for the foreseeable future,” manager AJ Hinch announced Monday.  

The Tigers found out about Fetter’s test Sunday night. Hinch will shuffle his coaching staff for the last two days of spring training, with Toledo pitching coach Doug Bochtler is joining the crew in his absence.

But Hinch isn’t sure who will replace Fetter on the coaching staff when the regular season starts April 1 against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. The Tigers are in the middle of the contact-tracing process to make sure everyone else is healthy.

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“We feel good with where we’re at,” Hinch said Monday about the tracing process. “We’ve got to go through the protocols to get more information and continue to test to make sure everything is good to go.”

Fetter was hired by Hinch this offseason from the University of Michigan. He is going to miss his first Opening Day experience. Hinch said Fetter didn’t break COVID-19 protocols or do anything to put himself in a potentially jeopardizing situation.

“He was literally hotel, field, couple of road trips,” Hinch said. “He was arguably the best at the mask and one of the safest people in our entire organization. I’m heartbroken for him that an opportunity could be missed here.”

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Hinch shared medical details about Fetter because his pitching coach gave him permission to do so.

Right-hander Spencer Turnbull remains on the non-baseball injured list because of COVID-19 protocols, but Hinch won’t elaborate beyond explaining Turnbull will miss “the first few series” of the season.

“He’s been able to do a little bit of physical activity on his own, but we haven’t seen him at the complex,” Hinch said Sunday. “I don’t know. That’s one of the unknowns. Once we can get him fully cleared, then we can develop a plan for him. You won’t see him in the first few series.”

Earlier in camp, right-hander Bryan Garcia, righty Jason Foley and infielder Zack Short were forced to sit out for coronavirus concerns. It’s unclear if they tested positive or had to quarantine because of close contact.

“We’ve had a relatively quiet camp when it comes to COVID compared to what it could have been,” Hinch said. “Obviously, it’s not great news at the end with what we’re experiencing now.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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