Phil Nevin returns to Yankees after scary COVID-19 bout

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Phil Nevin’s bout with COVID-19 was more serious than many people knew.

The Yankees third base coach, who is back with the team and hoped to be in the dugout for the first time Friday night, said he also battled a staph infection that left him very ill.

“I feel good compared to where I’ve been,’’ Nevin said on a Zoom call before the Yankees faced the Red Sox in The Bronx.

Where he’d been, it turned out, was a pretty scary place.

Nevin was diagnosed with COVID-19 while on the team plane as the Yankees were flying to Tampa on May 10 before a series against the Rays.

Nevin was the first of nine members of the organization to test positive, although he was the only one to develop symptoms.

Making matters worse, the 50-year-old Nevin has asthma.

The vaccine he received, Nevin said, helped COVID-19 stay out of his lungs, which potentially could have been life-threatening.

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge #99, taps fists with 3rd base coach Phil Nevin
Third base coach Phil Nevin is happy to be back with the Yankees, whom he refers to as his ‘family.’
Corey Sipkin

“If the lungs had been compromised and tacked on [to the staph infection], I was told it probably would not have been a very good outcome as far as the healing process,’’ Nevin said.

He dealt with a fever for about a week and went to the emergency room on May 17.

The staph infection, Nevin said, affected his liver and kidneys and was discovered only after pitching coach Matt Blake, who was also under quarantine in Tampa after coming down with COVID-19, called the team’s head trainer, Tim Lentych, to tell him that Nevin wasn’t himself.

More tests were ordered the next morning and by that night, Nevin was back at the hospital, where he learned of the staph infection.

“Hearing that news, I knew what it meant,’’ Nevin said. “It can turn septic.”

But since it was caught early, the doctors were able to treat the infection, but it was “a little bit of a grind,” according to Nevin, who lost 22 pounds.

“People have been through worse,’’ Nevin said. “It’s really good to get back around the guys.”

He said he’s accustomed to watching his sons play baseball on his computer and talking to his wife and daughter on the phone, but not being around the Yankees was rough.

“This is my family,” Nevin said.

While Nevin was still in Tampa, his oldest son, Tyler, made his major league debut with the Orioles, on May 29 against the White Sox.

“We had talked about that day for a long time,’’ an emotional Nevin said of his son’s big league debut. “To not be there for that probably hurt the most.”

Nevin even had it in his contract that he would have been allowed to miss a game with the Yankees when Tyler got called up.

“I had a great seat,’’ Nevin joked. “I was on the couch.”

Tyler Nevin, 24, doubled off Dallas Keuchel in his first game. He has since been sent back down and Nevin might go see him when he returns to the majors.

“That’s something you never get back,’’ Nevin said. “But I couldn’t be prouder.”

Nevin won’t be back at third base until Monday at the earliest, because he is still getting treatment for the infection, but hopes he’s on the field after that and will travel with the Yankees to Minnesota on Monday, with the plan being he’d be on the field when they open a series against the Twins on Tuesday.

“Phil is beloved in our room by our staff and players, but he’s also a valuable member of our staff,’’ Aaron Judge said. “I know how hard it’s been on him.”

“He’s a guy that brings fire and intensity from the coaching staff. We’ve been really missing him.”

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