Davey Martinez told reporters on Monday that Juan Soto, who’d tested positive for COVID-19 before the season opener last Thursday, had tested negative once, and needed to test negative again before he could be reinstated under MLB’s protocol for conducting the 60-game 2020 season amidst a pandemic.
“We got one test result back today,” Martinez said. “He tested negative, so we’re waiting on another, so we’ll see what happens.”
Soto, 21, was quarantined earlier this month when he came in contact with another player who tested positive for COVID-19, so he, Soto, missed two weeks of Spring Training 2.0 as he went through the protocol set up by Major League Baseball.
Missing time again, with the shortened season underway, was a tough blow for both Soto and his team.
Soto’s manager, Davey Martinez, said he knew MLB was doing their best to process tests as quickly as possible, but all he and his outfielder could do was wait for word he could come back to the ballpark.
“We’re really at the mercy of when we get these tests back,” the manager explained in a Zoom call with reporters before Monday’s series opener with the Toronto Blue Jays.
“So, hopefully the next one comes back soon and it tests negative, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
On Tuesday afternoon, in another conference call that was primarily focused on the fact that the Nationals’ planned three-game weekend series in Miami was postponed after an outbreak amongst Marlins’ players put 15 of them into quarantine, Martinez did note that they received results on another test for Soto.
“We did get another result back today,” Martinez said. “He tested negative, and now we’re waiting for him to be cleared by MLB and the D.C. Department of Health.”
Martinez didn’t elaborate, other than to say that Soto hadn’t had any official positive test result since the one that came in on July 23rd.
The latest update came hours after USA TODAY baseball writer Bob Nightengale reported that the Nationals’ outfielder was growing increasingly frustrated with the process.
Washington #Nats star Juan Soto is getting increasingly frustrated, his teammates say. He has reportedly tested negative six times_three by MLB and three by the team_but has not had back-to-back negative tests, keeping him out of action.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 28, 2020
The Nationals have two more with the Jays this week, and then a four-day break since the series with the Marlins has been postponed and they already had a scheduled off day on Monday.
How long will it take for MLB and the D.C. Department of Health to clear him to return to the lineup?
After last night’s loss left the Nationals 1-4 early this season, both Martinez and shortstop Trea Turner talked about Soto’s absence affecting the club.
“It’s tough,” Martinez told reporters. “He’s one of our best hitters in the middle of our lineup.
“That takes away from a lot. I just can’t wait to get him back. But he’s not here. I trust these guys that we’ve got playing. We’ve just got to play baseball.
“Pitching, our pitching is doing okay. I like what I’ve seen out of our pitching, we’ve just got to start playing behind them, and scoring some runs.”
Turner was asked if the team missed their middle-of-the-order bat, which, obviously.
“You could say that for sure,” Turner said, “especially because we haven’t really put up some runs on the board. I feel like we’ve been hitting the ball great, we’ve been putting hits up on the board, I think we outhit them yesterday, we’ve missed the home run a little bit as a club in general, but you know it’s easy to say that when you’re not winning or you’re not putting up eight or ten runs a night. So we definitely miss him and we need him back, because he’s a big part of our lineup and he just puts together good quality at bats every time, which is big.”
Martinez was asked if there was any post game update on Soto’s status? “We haven’t heard nothing yet,” he said.