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This has been the toughest challenge of my career, says Marlins pitcher victim of COVID-19

When he learned that he was infected with the virus, Sandy Alcántara felt uncomfortable. He was not a victim of panic nor did he fear for his life, but for his family that he would not see for days and for his team, which he could not help in a hectic start to the season.

The Dominican pitcher was one of 18 infected with COVID-19 in the fateful series in Philadelphia who would then come to Miami on a 17-hour bus trip to begin a quarantine pending the two negative tests that would allow it to at least return to the ground.

“They were difficult moments, because one feels powerless and can not do anything other than follow the instructions of the doctors and the team,” said Alcántara from Jupiter, where he trains awaiting the call to the Marlins. “One has to be strong of mind so as not to fall into despair. This has been the biggest challenge in my career. ”

In the solitude of his room, Alcántara did everything possible to maintain the strength of his arm, running in the spaces that allowed him and throwing balls against the mattresses and pillows, simulating various game situations in his imagination.

Alcántara, no doubt, felt a great relief when the second negative test came and the Major League Baseball Joint Committee that analyzes the cases of players with coronavirus gave him the green light to join the Jupiter spring camp along with the other 17 members of the club .

Everything indicates that the Dominican could return to the team soon after launching a bullpen session of 22 shipments as a previous step to work in a practice game this Wednesday, where he hopes to extend his work to 50 pitches to show that his arm is ready.

“I feel 100 percent ready to go back right now, but I have to wait for the results of that simulated match,” explained Alcántara, who is recovering along with others from the rotation such as Caleb Smith and José Ureña. “It’s very hard being here and not being able to help the team.”

One of the things that helps to pass these moments has been watching the Marlins march and the performances of men like Venezuelans Pablo López and Elieser Hernández, who have collaborated in an important way in the good start of the season.

Both have taken great strides forward – Alcantara says he is proud of them – in their respective careers and the team only hopes that the rotation will be the same as it was at the beginning, once Smith, Ureña and Alcántara rejoin. When will it happen?

“Everyone has their own pace in practice,” explained manager Don Mattingly. “The return will depend on the progress of that rhythm and individual routines. In principle, it seems that Sandy will be among the first to return to us. ”

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Jorge Ebro is a prominent journalist with more than 30 years of experience reporting on Sports. Baseball lover and lost love of boxing.