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Jeff Passanespan


ESPN MLB Insider

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The opening series of the season between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets has been postponed until Friday, and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the team’s fourth player has tested positive for COVID-19.

In addition to the positive test results, five other Nationals players and a staff member are under quarantine because the impact of the KOVID-19 outbreak has put Washington’s season start in doubt. The Nationals are still waiting for Thursday’s test results.

We are in crisis management mode, Rizzo said in a video interview with reporters.

Positive tests on three Nationals players and an inconclusive result on a fourth player led to their game being postponed until opening day on Thursday. Saturday and Sunday’s games were also postponed and will be made up for the rest of the season, in which the teams play 19 games against each other as National League East opponents.

When Washington will play for the first time will depend on the results of the team’s contact investigation following the outbreak. The Nationals’ players and staff have remained sequestered the past few days, and Rizzo said they will prepare for the next series, which begins Monday against the Atlanta Braves.

Nine players who tested positive or are locked up will not be available when the Nationals play Monday and will be replaced by substitutes, Rizzo said.

Rizzo said Thursday that one of the players tested positive had a fever, but the general manager said Friday that the player was feeling better and that no one else was showing symptoms of COVID-19.

A virus is a virus. It’s very contagious. So I think it can happen in a lot of different ways. I don’t think it’s a breach of protocol or improper protocols, Rizzo said. But something happened. We will try to understand how this could have happened, investigate and see if we can prevent it in the future.

The protocol agreed upon by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association requires a one-week quarantine for those expected to come into close contact with those who tested positive, and those with COVID-19 must remain isolated for at least 10 days.

Depending on the test results, the Nationals could practice Saturday, Rizzo said.

Rizzo said that with this change, you can’t just give up on playing for the Atlanta Braves and not expect injuries to occur [there]. But other gamers have a hard time sitting down to play video games or whatever for two or three days and then pick up the pace.

For me, it’s a safety issue and we need to get the boys’ blood flowing, he added. We have to get them moving so they don’t go from zero to 100 in the season without being prepared the last few days.

The Mets’ season begins Monday in Philadelphia. The team plans to stay and work in Washington D.C. for two days before leaving for Philadelphia. The Mets won’t make any changes to their rotation, and Jacob deGrom, who was supposed to pitch Thursday, was scheduled to play Monday’s game.

The MLB and players’ union released their weekly test results Friday, showing that three players and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 out of 14,354 tests performed.

The St. Petersburg blowouts St. Louis and Miami disrupted teams last season, but didn’t derail them as both teams reached the postseason. The Nationals, looking to make the playoffs, will start the season with a deficit, as those who tested positive will be placed on the VDIC-19 injury list.

Jesse Rogers of ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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