Hey — sorry for dozing off there while awaiting the start of the Nationals’ 2021 season. You can come down pretty far after preparing — twice — to analyze and speculate on the season to come, only to have the rug pulled out both times.
Now nobody will ever see those pieces, so this one will have to do.
Nats fans are a hearty bunch, though. If we could endure 34 seasons until the team moved to town, the least we can do is wait out another few days while we make sure everyone who tested positive for COVID and all their contacts are OK.
There’s a good possibility that all the Nats’ prized off-season acquisitions, plus some other key players, won’t be on the field.
Players reported by The Washington Post to have missed Monday’s workout included first baseman Josh Bell, second baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Trea Turner.
Both catchers, Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, were also absent.
To catch Max Scherzer, the Nats could turn to 11-year veteran Jonathan Lucroy, who signed a minor league deal with the team Friday after being released by the Chicago White Sox.
That was after the Nats’ scheduled opener against the New York Mets had been postponed and Saturday was ruled out, too.
Top catching prospect Tres Barrera was reportedly recalled from the minors before Thursday’s scheduled opener.
Lucroy is a two-time former All-Star with Milwaukee but has bounced around with five different organizations since the Brewers traded him to Texas in 2016.
The Nationals were on Lucroy’s no-trade list in 2016, but now he’s happy to be a Nat for maybe a couple games.
The Nats are schedule to play one game Tuesday afternoon, and then the first seven-inning doubleheader of the 2021 season, against Atlanta on Wednesday.
Why is baseball in such a hurry to make up these games? We can postpone Opening Day for five days, yet we have to make up one missed game ASAP. It makes sense to schedule these shortened twin-bills, but is the competition fair if one or two teams have an inordinate number of seven-inning doubleheaders to make up for rain outs or even another COVID outbreak?
We literally have all season to make up four games against division opponents. Both the Mets and Atlanta will be coming back a few times, and both teams have common off days. We have no idea what will happen the rest of the season. Maybe one of these games can be rescheduled for a time when it’s safer to bring more fans into the park, and maybe even sell more tickets. In this case, it would have made sense to let the teams play as scheduled for now and plan make-ups later in the season, rather than trying to skimp on travel costs.
Now we’re finally ready to play baseball in 2021. The lineup may look different and the short-term outlook a little less rosy.
The Nats, once again, will have to regroup after an early setback, this time just to get the season started.
But the most important thing is making sure everyone who was potentially exposed to the virus is safe and healthy. For fans who waited decades for baseball to return, that few extra days should be a relatively minor inconvenience.