WASHINGTON -- The Nationals returned to the field on Tuesday after the team cancelled Monday’s workout because they had not received their COVID-19 test results from Friday. All of those tests came back negative.
“Yesterday we had too many outstanding tests, and we didn’t have the information on the players and their safety,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Figured instead of going in blind and hoping that the outstanding cases aren’t going to be positive, we just didn’t have a good enough feeling that we were having the players’ safety in the forefront.”
The players were instructed to stay at home, forego baseball activities and quarantine on Monday. Rizzo said he felt a responsibility to put his team in the safest situation for their health.
“I’m the caretaker for these guys,” Rizzo said. “These are my guys. Their families are my families. This staff is my staff. I couldn’t live with myself if we went on haphazardly and didn’t abide by the rules that are in their best interest.”
Two asymptomatic players had tested positive for COVID-19 on their intake tests. They had not been to Nationals Park. In order to report to the stadium, players who test positive must be symptom-free for 72 hours and test negative twice at least 24 hours apart. The team also is awaiting the test results for players whose intake tests were negative but who have come in contact with those who tested positive.
“It’s about keeping these guys healthy,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They do us no good if they’re sick, and I don’t want anybody to get sick. I say that time and time again. By missing a day, we got our results back. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Adjusting to the cancellation of a workout is part of facing the unknowns in a pandemic. Shortstop Trea Turner had prepared for a full day of training on Monday, but he understood the decision that was made for the bigger picture.
“Going home for a day, as long as nothing drastic happened, as long as nothing negative happened to anybody, I can roll with it and move on and try to enjoy the day,” said Turner, who tried out wearing a mask during drills. “Make the most of it and then come back today ready to go. I felt like we had a great practice today.”
With just over two weeks until the Nationals open the 2020 season against the Yankees on July 23, Rizzo wants to help ensure the players can focus on the 60 games ahead.
“Players are creatures of habit and routine,” Rizzo said. “I think the more comfortable they get with the protocol and procedures, I think the more comfortable they will be to concentrate on baseball. Our job is to make the [coronavirus] procedures and protocols as simple and as streamlined as possible. … We’ve got to formulate that bond and that trust that this process and the protocols are working and that they're comfortable coming to the ballpark every day.”