Al Leiter and John Smoltz barred from MLB Network studios for unvaccinated status

September 1, 2021, 4:20 PM UTC

Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer John Smoltz and former Mets and Yankees pitcher Al Leiter will not be allowed to appear on MLB Network from its New York studios because they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

The New York Post reports the two have refused to comply with the MLB’s mandatory vaccination policy, but have reached a compromise with the league that will have them continue to appear on air remotely.

Both serve as analysts for the network. Smoltz, who is also lead analyst for Fox’s MLB coverage, is scheduled to call a Division Series game next month.

MLB Network made it mandatory for all employees to be vaccinated beginning Sept. 1.

The MLB has struggled with COVID as the Delta variant has spread. Just 66% of the league’s teams have reached the threshold of 85% or more of their Tier 1 individuals being considered fully vaccinated. Once a team reaches that level, it is allowed to relax some protocols. So far this season, 64 players and coaches have tested positive for the virus across 25 teams. On Tuesday, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was pulled out of a game in the bottom of the second inning due to a positive test result. He’s the sixth Red Sox player to test positive since Friday.

While the league is trying to protect players and staffers, it also has an issue with fans. July’s All-Star Game saw at least 14 fans contract the virus.

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