WASHINGTON – The Nationals and Atlanta Braves were still waiting until Sunday afternoon to find out if Major League Baseball will allow its next series to proceed as scheduled as Washington faces a coronavirus outbreak that could prevent 11 players from participating. .
Four Nationals players tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week and are in isolation, while seven others are now in quarantine because contact tracing determined they may have been exposed to the disease.
General manager Mike Rizzo said none of those 11 – most, though not all, of which were supposed to be on the opening day roster – would be available if the three-game set with Atlanta begins Monday. Rizzo has not publicly identified any of the players involved or the two staff members who have also been quarantined due to possible exposure.
Washington has yet to play a game this season; his first three-game series against the New York Mets on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday was postponed.
“Believe me, we are in constant contact with MLB. As soon as a decision is made, they will let us know. They have been through this before. They know exactly what to do and when we have done it. Do this to prepare for a game. Monday, “Rizzo said in a video call with reporters Sunday.
“We are preparing, and we have been preparing, to play on Monday,” he said.
Team workouts have not been allowed since the outbreak began, something Rizzo says should happen before Washington faces an opponent, but pitchers were able to go to Nationals Park one by one on Saturday and Sunday for sessions. of bullpen.
“The position players haven’t worked in a week. And the pitchers haven’t thrown any competitive pitches in that same period of time. It’s something we’re taking very seriously here. We’re thinking in creative ways under protocol and under protocol. guide to having these guys as prepared as possible, “Rizzo said.
“It makes a lot of sense for baseball, from a player protection standpoint, for these guys to test their steps in a full workout before we hit the field,” he added.
Reigning NL East champions Braves are 0-3 after a season-opening sweep in which they scored a total of three runs for the Philadelphia Phillies.
And while Atlanta wasn’t sure, 24 hours before Monday’s first pitch in Washington, when his next game would be, Braves wide receiver Travis D’Arnaud said: “I know we have to be ready to play. Better to be ready to play than to be surprised. “
Braves manager Brian Snitker said he will assume his club will play Monday until he hears otherwise.
“This is the COVID era. Everything is fluid,” Snitker said. “If I get a call tomorrow at 10 o’clock [postponing the game], it won’t surprise me. I don’t expect it, but it could happen. “
Rizzo said that all of his team’s coronavirus tests have remained negative, apart from the four players who are in isolation.
And she said those four “feel much, much better,” adding that any symptoms that appeared earlier have subsided.
Now it’s up to MLB to find out when the Nationals can start their season.
“We want to do everything we can to nip this in the bud here and now,” Rizzo said. “So I think that is being taken very much into account when we speak [about] the next two days. “