When he spoke to reporters this afternoon, between 2:30 and 2:47 PM ET, Washington’s GM Mike Rizzo was still hoping the Nationals, whose season-opening series was postponed due to a COVID outbreak on the club’s roster, would open their season with the first of three the club was scheduled to play at home in D.C. against the Atlanta Braves on Monday.
“We are preparing and have been preparing to play Monday,” Rizzo explained. “Now if that happens, we’ll be prepared to play, but again, we’re in discussion with MLB about that.”
Rizzo, however, expressed some concern about the lack of time for the club to prepare after a week away from the field, with four players total who tested positive for COVID-19 and the seven who were placed in quarantine via contact tracing, unavailable should the season get underway for the team this week.
The rest of the club has been closed out of the park since last week, and they haven’t held an organized workout since returning from West Palm Beach, though they were cleared to have pitchers work out one at a time last night and again today.
It appears they’ll have at least another day to potentially get work in.
Multiple reports tonight say that the series opener with their divisional rivals isn’t going to take place tomorrow.
Nationals’ game vs. Braves tomorrow postponed, source tells The Athletic. Aiming to play on Tuesday.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 4, 2021
The hope is that the Nationals and Braves will play Tuesday, if all goes well with the Nationals' COVID situation.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 4, 2021
So Rizzo and Co. in the nation’s capital will have to wait at least another day to play the first game of the 2021 campaign, or they’ll have 24 more hours to get ramped back up.
While starting the season soon would leave the Nats’ shorthanded, with 11 players still in quarantine and, obviously, unavailable, (though Rizzo said not everyone now in quarantine was part of their Opening Day roster when the team originally submitted it), missing all of these games early will likely lead to some doubleheaders down the road that aren’t easy on a roster either.
“The 162-[game] season is mapped out for a reason,” Rizzo said Sunday afternoon. “We want to take the long-haul approach, the long-term approach, the big-picture approach, and to throw a rush of doubleheaders into the mix is never a positive thing. But this is about the health of the players, our staff, their families.
“And we need to know that the process and the spreading of this virus is over before we feel good about taking the field.”