The updated numbers aren’t great. Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters this afternoon his club has, “four confirmed positives right now, all players,” who tested positive for COVID-19 and have gone into quarantine.
That’s not the full list of currently unavailable, quarantined players of course.
“Our contract tracing for the four positives has been completed,” Rizzo added, and now the team has, “five additional players that are in quarantine,” along with one staff member.
Nine players total will have to be replaced on the Opening Day roster if the Nationals play in the near future. Will they play though?
“We’ve continued our heightened testing protocol, therefore we test every day, and we are waiting on the results from yesterday’s tests as we speak,” Rizzo said, and they’ll know more when they get those results.
So, if they play on Monday, when the Atlanta Braves and the Nationals are hoping to start a three-game set in the nation’s capital, 35% of Washington’s expected Opening Day roster will not be available. But, if they are able to play, if MLB and D.C. allow it, the Nationals will bring the players they need up from their Alternate Training site in Fredericksburg, Virginia and play the games.
“I have confidence in the players that are going to be on the roster. And that’s why you build depth in an organization,” Rizzo said.
“I would say it’s unfortunate that it’s happened right at Opening Day, but is it any worse than it happening in the middle of the season, when you’ve played half the season?
“We’re going to take this as it is, we’re going to care for our players, care for their families, make sure we do the right thing, put the best 26 players on the field whenever we play, be it Monday or whenever we start the season, and get after whoever we’re playing.”
“We have confidence in our depth,” he reiterated at another point in his Zoom call.
“We like the players that we have down there in Fredericksburg, and we’re going to be relying heavily on them, and again, when you’re trying to get where you’re getting, I said this in 2019, your stars have to be stars, and our good players are going to have to play well, and our depth is going to have to shine. We’re going to put the best 26 we can on the field and we’re going to give them hell, everybody we play.”
Rizzo offered an emphatic, “No,” when asked if the club planned to release the names of the players who have tested positive, and he said that though they have done contact tracing, and identified players who need to be in quarantine in addition to those who have positive tests, they haven’t found, and don’t think there was, a breach of protocol that’s to blame for the “crisis” they are in at this point.
“We haven’t completed the autopsy or investigation, if you will, on how things ended there in Spring Training, but we had a good camp. Again, I’m supportive of the players, I don’t think there was a protocol broken, so I think that we handled Spring Training as good as you can with obviously a hiccup there at the end that has been costly. So we’re not finished with it, but we’re certainly going to look deeper into it.”
If there wasn’t a breach of protocol, does that mean the protocols are inadequate?
“I think that there’s obviously — a virus is a virus, it’s very contagious, so I think it could happen in many, many different ways,” Rizzo said. I don’t think it’s a breach of protocols, or inadequate protocols, but it’s just something that happened and we’re going to try to find out how it happened and investigate it and see if we can stop it from happening again.”