Notes: Soto's 2nd negative; Nats' team vote

July 29th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals could be one step closer to having back in their lineup.

The star left fielder received a second COVID-19 negative on Tuesday after he was placed on the injured list last Thursday. There is no minimum number of days on the COVID-19 IL, but Major League Baseball protocol requires two negative tests at least 24 hours apart to return to play. Soto is yet to play this season.

“Now we are waiting for him to be cleared by MLB and D.C. Department of Health," said Nationals manager Dave Martinez.

Martinez added that the team has not received any other positive test results.

The absence of Soto’s bat has been noticeable. Washington entered Tuesday ranked 23rd among teams in runs scored (13). started in place of Soto in Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays, batting ninth and going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Nationals hold team vote
Before MLB postponed the Nats’ weekend road series against the Marlins amid COVID-19 concerns, Washington players voted to express their preference not to play in Miami this weekend. It was nearly unanimous, with just one vote to play.

“We're really close and we're very united,” Martinez said. “I heard rumblings of players, and they had some concerns. I wanted to talk about it. We had a vote, and we all decided that it was probably unsafe to go there.”

Washington is opening the season with seven consecutive games at Nationals Park -- five are true home games, two count as a Blue Jays homestand. The Nats' first road trip was slated for this weekend at Marlins Park.

"It had nothing to do with the Miami Marlins,” Martinez said. “It's all about Miami, the state of Florida, this pandemic. They didn't feel safe, and I was one of them that felt the same way."

The Nationals are eyeing a regimented workout schedule for this weekend in lieu of the three-game series.

“I want to make sure they're comfortable in doing what we are doing,” Martinez said. “If there is any way I can help them, I will help them. They know we are all in this together. We talk a lot about the circle of trust, and they really believe in that -- that we have each other and we are going to try to take care of each other the best we can."

About those Toronto games ...
Washington will remain in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday for the Blue Jays’ home-opening series, which will be held at Nationals Park. will make his second start of the season against fellow right-hander Nate Pearson, Toronto's top prospect who is making his Major League debut.

“I think still we are playing at home, which is kind of nice,” Martinez said. “The whole object is safety, obviously. The only difference is we are going to be wearing gray pants. I don’t know what color shirt we will be wearing, but we will have gray pants on. We did wear our grays during our intrasquad, so they’re used to that.”