So ... first things first. Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters today, that as of 2:30 PM ET, there is, “no update on the Braves series,” that is scheduled to start at 4:05 PM tomorrow afternoon.
“I know that is at the forefront of everybody’s mind, including ours here,” Rizzo explained.
“No decision has been made by MLB yet.”
The Nationals haven’t had any additional players test positive for COVID-19, after four tested positive last week, and six more were deemed to have been in close contact with one of the players who did test positive.
But the club did have one other player added to the quarantine list.
“The four players who are positive and continue to isolate and are doing well,” Rizzo said.
“Any symptoms that they may have been experiencing have subsided. They’re feeling much, much better, which is — that’s a good thing.
“We have had one additional player and one staff member added to our quarantine list, that was by the D.C. Department of Health, bringing our total number of players in quarantine to seven, plus two staff members. They are doing well and continue to test negative.”
So, and there was some confusion about this, there are still just four positive tests, and the total number of players who haven’t tested positive, but are quarantining is now seven (w/ the two staff members as well), after they were in close contact with one player who tested positive.
“The player and staff member were placed into quarantine by the city [of D.C.],” Rizzo said.
“They had been identified earlier by MLB’s contact tracing process as a person that required extra scrutiny, so they were already under additional testing protocols by MLB, and the D.C. Health Department deemed them in close contact proximity. We have received permission from MLB to hold small individual group workouts — specifically for our pitchers — meaning they can come to the ballpark one pitcher at a time to throw and throw a bullpen.
“So our pitchers came in last night and some are coming this afternoon.”
How long would the team need if they are going to play tomorrow? They have not had any full squad workouts since last week, when Spring Training wrapped up with the Grapefruit League finale last Monday.
Could they just jump right back in and play the first game of the season tomorrow without having worked out in a week?
“There has been no protocol on an exact amount of full team workouts you have to have before you can start a game,” Rizzo said.
“In essence, we could be told that we’re playing tomorrow with a very, very short workout schedule before this.
“This brings up a reminder that the position players haven’t worked out in a week and pitchers haven’t thrown any competitive pitch in that same period of time.
“It’s something that we’re taking very seriously here. We’re thinking of creative ways under the protocols and under the guides to get these guys as ready as possible, but without working out a week prior to a game to me is something that we’re concerned about.”
“I think it makes a lot of sense baseball player-protection-wise to have these guys go through their paces in a full workout before we take the field,” Rizzo added, “and you go from 0-to-100 MPH without working out for a very long period of time.”
How quickly could they adequately prepare for a real game? How soon do they have to know if they’ll play tomorrow?
“We’re in constant contact with MLB,” Rizzo continued. “So as soon as a decision is made, they’re going to let us know, and they’ve been through this before, they know exactly what they have to do and when we have to do this to prepare ourselves for a game on Monday.”
As of the time he spoke, Rizzo said, they were continuing to prepare for a game tomorrow afternoon.
“As I said the other day, we are preparing and have been preparing to play Monday. Now if that happens, we’ll be prepared to play, but again, we’re in discussion with MLB about that.”
Of the eleven players now unavailable (four with positive tests, and seven through contact tracing, unavailable), how many are players that would’ve been on the Opening Day roster?
“The majority of them were on our 26-man roster,” Rizzo said. “Several of them were not.”
And of the players who have not tested positive or been in close contact? What are they up to right now?
“They want to get on the field,” Rizzo said. “They really want to get back into the routine of baseball, and they want to work out and get the blood flow again, and I think that they are very excited about getting back on the field.”
When they will get back on the field? It’s still not clear.