Barring any changes before Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Nationals will start the 2021 season with a 4:05 PM ET matchup against the Atlanta Braves in the nation’s capital. They’re not going to have the full contingent of players they expected to have on their Opening Day roster, since eleven players are currently in quarantine after last week’s news that four players tested positive for COVID-19, with seven other players identified through contact tracing.
“Major League Baseball announced tonight that the Washington Nationals will begin their season on Tuesday vs. the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. The most recent round of test results of Nationals personnel included no new positives. All of the club’s eligible personnel will be able to participate in baseball activities at Nationals Park on Monday.
“An announcement regarding the rescheduling of Monday’s game vs. the Braves and the postponed season-opening series vs. the New York Mets will be made when available.”
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo talked on Sunday afternoon, as his club waited for word that they could resume workouts in advance of an Opening Day, with enough time to prepare after a week-plus off, about why they needed some kind of activity before playing Atlanta, or whichever team was lined up when they were cleared.
“I think it makes a lot of sense baseball player-protection-wise,” Rizzo explained, “... to have these guys go through their paces in a full workout before we take the field and you go from 0-to-100 MPH without working out for a very long period of time.”
Of the as-yet unnamed players who will be unavailable when the season officially starts on Tuesday afternoon, Rizzo said, “... the majority of them were on our 26-man roster,” which the team submitted the day of the planned season-opener last Thursday. “Several of them were not,” he added.
Pitchers started throwing again on Saturday, one at a time, and continued on Sunday while they waited for word on the season starting.
“We’re trying to get every pitcher that is going to perform for us in the near future to come and throw their — more or less their regular schedule if you will,” Rizzo said.
“Starters that are teed up to pitch in the first four or five games of the season have a regimen that they have to follow to be prepared to do that.
“It’s difficult to kind of bring the competitiveness into a bullpen session, or a side session, but that’s really all we have right now. But the pitchers are out there doing their activation, their long-toss, everything is outside, everything is individual, and then they’ll throw the bullpen as our pitching coaches deem that they need to prepare for a game as early as tomorrow.”
They’re preparing for a game on Tuesday afternoon now. 4:05 PM ET. Nationals vs Braves.