After announcing on Sunday that an additional (seventh) player was placed in quarantine, following contact tracing which determined they were in close proximity with one of four players who tested positive for COVID-19, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged a need for significant changes to the 26-Man roster they put together for Opening Day last week before the health crisis changed the club’s plans.
Of the eleven players in quarantine, Rizzo said, “the majority of them were on our 26-man roster,” while, “several of them were not.”
Multiple reports had the Nationals calling up left-handed reliever Sam Clay, catcher Tres Barrera, infielder Luis García and outfielder Yadiel Hernández, while The Athletic’s Maria Torres added right-handed reliever Kyle McGowin’s name to the list yesterday.
Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty reported over the weekend that his sources were telling him, left fielder Kyle Schwarber, expected starting second baseman Josh Harrison, left-handed starter Jon Lester, and backup catcher Alex Avila, were, “... among the players the Nationals expect to be [without] if they start early this week, according to people [with] knowledge of the situation.”
The rumored call-ups made sense in that light, though with the numbers being discussed, it was clear there would likely be more names added to the list of call-ups brought up for their season-opener this afternoon, since, Rizzo noted, “No players have gotten out of quarantine as of [Sunday afternoon].”
“I truly believe we’re going to be fine,” manager Davey Martinez said on Monday afternoon of the makeshift roster he’s going to have to work with until players come out of quarantine. “We haven’t set our roster yet, but with the guys we got here, these guys were in our alternate site, we believed that at some point in time that they were going to help us throughout this year. It happened to be a little earlier than expected, but they look good. They came up here. I was excited to see them. I know they’re going to help us. They’re going to help us. This is who we are.
“So, some of the young guys that you see up here, get an opportunity to go out there and play at a big league level and we’re excited about that.”
“For the most part,” Martinez added, “... look we’ve got Max Scherzer pitching Game 1. So we’re going to focus on that one game. And as always, I’ll tell you again, we’re going to try to go 1-0 tomorrow and then worry about the other games.
“But when we left Spring Training we had some tough decisions to make on some of these younger kids and what to do with them.”
“These guys were the guys that were chosen to go to our alternate site because we believed at some point in time they were going to help us win ballgames in the major leagues,” Martinez continued.
“The time is now and we think that these guys will do everything they can to help us win games.”
“Just like any time during the season,” Ryan Zimmerman said in advance of the first game of what will be his 16th major league campaign, “very rarely, and probably never have you ever played with the same team on the field the entire season. We kind of look at it like that. We have confidence in our whole roster. We have some guys that are going to step up and play well. I think Davey would tell you too, they weren’t easy decisions for them to make.
“We had some guys that probably would have a chance to play on some other teams, or that are good enough to play at this level. We feel confident in the team that we have.
“If we go out and play the game like we’re supposed to play, it doesn’t really matter who’s out there. We can win games with anyone out there.”
“We’ve just got to play as a team,” Juan Soto said. “We’ve always been playing as a team, we just have to go through [this] as a team. We have some minor league guys there that they’re going to be really good, because they’ve been showing that since the last couple years, and I think they’re going to help the team really well.”
“In every spot I’m just going to try to do 100%, and I’m just going to ask them to do the same thing and we’re going to see at the end of the day how the game is going to finish.”
This morning, the Nationals made their altered 26-Man Opening Day roster official. Here it is...