April 1, 2021 | 10:40pm | Updated April 1, 2021 | 10:41pm
The number of players on the Nationals testing positive for COVID-19 has risen to three — with a fourth awaiting the results of retesting — wiping out at least their home opener Thursday against the Mets.
Washington general manager Mike Rizzo indicated the entire team “is under Mike Rizzo-mandated self-quarantine” until contact tracing can be completed, while manager Dave Martinez stressed that the pandemic that shortened the 2020 season to 60 games is not yet behind baseball as the new seasons commences.
“It’s still here. As I said in spring training, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic and people still need to take this seriously, they really do,” Martinez said. “Unfortunately, it hit us and we have to take care of our own now.
“All I can say is be safe and continue to wear your mask and know that this still can happen to anyone. It’s tough for us right now, but we’re going to get through it.”
Rizzo said he’s “not sure” if the Mets and Nationals will be able to play Saturday and Sunday, as hoped, after MLB announced that the opener would not be made up on Friday.
The Nats announced Wednesday that one of their players had tested positive with five additional players quarantined due to MLB contact tracing protocols. The new positive tests came from that group of players, Rizzo added.
“When we find out just the amount of people and where they’re at and their timeline, we’ll have a lot better picture of this,” Rizzo said. “Obviously, our intent is to play [Saturday], but we need to do that in a safe manner that protects the players and their families, and our fans and staff members.
“This is serious business. It’s about people’s health and obviously they’re very important to me, but they’re people. We’ve lost over a half a million people [in the United States] because of this virus and there’s nothing to joke about, nothing to point fingers over.I believe that we’ve done it the right way all of last year and throughout all of spring training.”
Rizzo stressed he has “the utmost confidence” that no Washington players broke protocols and that the current outbreak is “just some isolated incident.” One of the players who tested positive has experienced a fever, Rizzo added, “but for the most part, they are not symptomatic.”
Star outfielder Juan Soto tested positive last July and missed the delayed season opener against the Yankees.
The Mets have worked out at Nationals Park the past two days, but the Nats only have been at the yard for testing, Rizzo added.
“It’s a shame that we can’t play today, but we need to stay positive,” Martinez said. “I’ve talked to a lot of the players and my concern is about their health and safety. … We’re gonna get through this. This isn’t the first time we went through some bumpy roads. We’ve been there and we’re gonna come back from this and play baseball.”