For second straight opening day, Nationals lose player(s) to positive COVID-19 test

Jack Baer
·2-min read

MLB might be playing a 162-game schedule with fans in attendance, but that doesn't mean COVID-19 is no longer a threat to its 2021 season.

The Washington Nationals experienced some 2020 deja vu on Wednesday, when general manager Mike Rizzo revealed that an unidentified player had tested positive for COVID-19, according to Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post. Additionally, five other members of the team — four players and a staff member — have been quarantined after contact tracing. 

All five players affected will miss the team's season opener on Thursday.

The Nationals had reportedly avoided COVID cases throughout spring training, but a test taken Monday returned a positive result early Wednesday morning. All Nationals players, coaches and staff have reportedly taken both PCR and rapid tests since the positive test was returned.

Nationals had same situation with Juan Soto last year

UNITED STATES - MARCH 30: A worker paints the MLB logo of the field during a media tour of Nationals Park ahead of Major League Baseball Opening Day to explain the health and safety protocols implemented due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
The Nationals did not need this on opening day again. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

If this seems familiar, it's because the Nationals encountered nearly this exact situation in 2020, when star Juan Soto tested positive for the virus hours before first pitch on opening day. Soto, who was asymptomatic, ended up missing nearly the first two weeks of the season and said he believed the test was a false positive.

The entire saga was basically a shot across the bow from COVID-19 for MLB, which later saw entire teams shut down due to COVID-19 outbreaks during the regular season.

Which Nationals players are out due to COVID-19 won't be revealed until the team unveils its opening day roster, and even then it won't be clear who was responsible for the positive test. The Post notes that MLB's 2021 operations manual dictates a player must isolate for 10 days after first displaying symptoms or testing positive. All close contacts of an infected player must also quarantine for at least seven days.

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