They’re hardly the only team confronting this sort of situation as Major League Baseball tries to get the 2020 MLB campaign started amidst an ongoing pandemic, but Davey Martinez’s Washington Nationals are still waiting for a number of players on their roster to get cleared to start participating in Spring Training 2.0, less than two weeks out from Opening Day, which is currently scheduled for July 23rd.
Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick, Wander Suero, Roenis Elías, Luis Garcia, Joan Adon, and Fernando Abad are self-quarantining at home, with two among them having tested positive for COVID-19, while the others came in contact with someone who tested positive.
The Nationals, like some other teams around the league, are staying mum as to the personal medical issues players are dealing with as baseball attempts to ramp back up to the start of the planned 60-game season.
There were just 12 days left when the Nats’ skipper spoke to reporters on Saturday about the team’s attempts to get some clarity and eventually, provided they are healthy, get all of their players cleared to start working out with the club.
“I let our training staff, MLB, and the city determine what’s going on,” Martinez explained when asked who will decide when it’s safe for members of that group to return to action.
“I have to worry about the guys that are here right now and get these guys ready.
“Hopefully these guys will be here soon, but only time will tell. So for right now, I’m going to focus on the guys we’ve got and try to get them as ready as possible for July 23rd.”
Not that any one player on the list is any more important than another when it comes to the health concerns of anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19, or been in contact with one who has, but when it comes to the Nationals’ plans for their big league roster for this sprint of a season, there are names on that list who were expected to play a significant role, with two-thirds of the everyday outfield currently unable to join in on the workouts and one who hit the eventual winning home run in last year’s World Series currently at home.
The health and safety of those players is foremost in Martinez’s mind, but he has to think about how he’ll configure the roster if some or all of them remain unavailable.
“Absolutely,” Martinez said, when asked if those who are still unable to participate are on his mind.
“Right now we’re taking things one day at a time. I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican, back home, so was Robles.
“I talked to those guys, we talked to the strength and conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape, they worked really hard.”
The obvious concern, however, will be whether or not they’re in what Martinez referred to as “baseball shape” after all the time off.
“For me,” he said, “... if something happens where anybody strains an oblique or something, you’re looking at a significant amount of time, you’re probably looking at almost the whole season here with only 60 games. So, we’ve got to be careful. We’ve got to see where they’re at, and then once they get here we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not, but yeah, we’re definitely looking at guys to fill their void, if they can’t get off the ground running here the first week or two.
“We’re definitely looking at some different options.”
With close to four months off after the baseball world (and much of the country) shut down amidst the growing pandemic in mid-March, and now a delay to the start of workouts for the players who’ve been in quarantine since arriving back in the nation’s capital for the start of Spring Training 2.0, there is, obviously, concern about whether or not they’ll be ready to step in and get up to speed before the abbreviated season gets underway (provided that it does start as planned).
“Yeah, I mean, it’s like I said, we’re in a difficult situation,” Martinez acknowledged.
“We really are with these guys. We’ve done everything we can. Our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually have put them on some kind of workout program and are watching them do what they can do in their apartment. And you’re talking about some of our younger players too. So, we don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart. But we’re also talking about a shorter season where we need to win games right away.
“We’ll see how these guys come in. For me, like I said, it’s the baseball shape. Standing on their feet for 7-8-9 innings.”