The 2020 MLB season looked far different than any other in the history of the sport as a result of the still-ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
To help combat the spread of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball enacted a series of temporary rules changes and safety protocols designed to protect players and fans alike.
As the country continues to battle the virus, multiple vaccines for COVID-19 have started to become more available to the public in recent months. That includes professional athletes, though each state's current eligibility requirements are different across the board.
As the vaccine has become more readily available to some, it has become a topic in baseball clubhouses about how teams and players are approaching the option to get the shot.
For the Nationals, it's going to happen on a player-by-player basis.
"We haven’t discussed vaccines prior to this, other than it’s going to be the individual decision of the players. I got one of my two vaccines, so I’m a proponent of it, and I would recommend it to everybody out there," GM Mike Rizzo told reporters on Tuesday. "But players are going to make their own decisions on it."
Rizzo went on to say that while they haven't had any formal discussions just yet, he does plan to bring it up with the whole team soon to recommend it based on his personal experience.
At the end of the day, though, he knows it's not something that can be forced on anyone.
"These players are so intelligent, they’re so in tune with what’s going on, they’re going to make their own decisions that works best for them and their family," Rizzo said.
Ace of the staff and team leader Max Scherzer also weighed in on the possibility of getting vaccinated soon.
"I feel like we’re really close to the end of this because of the vaccine," Scherzer said on Tuesday. "Once we’re vaccinated, or I should really say once we have the choice to have that vaccination, the guys who do and the guys who don’t, that just is what it is, at that point I see it as I’m basically done with this. I’m ready to get back to normal. I’m ready for me personally to do everything that we want to do on and off the field, and live our lives as normal and best we can."
According to reports, teams that reach a certain threshold of vaccinated players on their rosters will have team-wide protocols loosened, though those specifics have not yet been announced.
Those reports line up with what Scherzer has heard as part of his involvement with the league and MLBPA. He's also hoping to see relaxed individual restrictions for the players who choose to receive the vaccination.
"I think the rules being discussed with MLB and the union, what the protocols are going to be for vaccinated players, and basically what benefits besides having the protection and antibodies, but what relaxations in protocols are going to be had, and basically how much can we relax," Scherzer said. "And really for me being on the subcommittee is trying to fight as hard as possible to relax as many of those protocols as possible for vaccinated players. Because for me I see it as we’ve done absolutely everything in our power to help curtail the pandemic by taking the vaccine, so we should realize the most amount of gains."
Scherzer has not yet been vaccinated himself, but he and many other players will have better opportunities to do so in the coming weeks and months. As they do, they'll be getting another step close to a sense of normalcy while playing baseball.