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MLB touts total testing in response to teams cancelling workouts

MLB touts total testing in response to teams cancelling workouts

Major League Baseball responded Monday afternoon to multiple team workout cancellations, earlier in the day, including one by the Nationals, by touting how much coronavirus testing has been done and vowing to fix the delays from the weekend.

The league said more than 95 percent of the tests taken at the intake screening have been “conducted, analyzed and shared” with all 30 clubs. Those individuals have moved on to the every-other-day testing mandated in the March 26 agreement between the players’ association in the league.

However, that intake testing happened last week and began on Wednesday. It is Monday. They are behind.

The league went on to point at the holiday weekend as a reason for test result delays from Friday and earlier.

“Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend,” said the league in a statement. “The vast majority of those deliveries occurred without incident and allowed the protocols to function as planned. Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays.  We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence. We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts.

“We appreciate the great cooperation from the players as well as the hard work of the Clubs and many internal and external staff members under these challenging circumstances. The process has not been without some unforeseen difficulties, which are being addressed with the service providers that are essential to the execution of the protocols. It is important to be mindful that nearly all of the individuals have been tested as planned. The health and safety of our players and employees will remain our highest priorities.”

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The Nationals and Houston Astros cancelled their Monday workouts because they did not have test results 72 hours later, though the league assured that they would be returned in 24-48 hours. The Anaheim Angels moved their workout to the afternoon. Most teams operated on their usual schedule.

The league provided further information about total testing, but did not provide any results of the tests. They have not provided results since the first dispatch Friday, which showed a 1.2 percent initial positivity rate.

From the league:

MLB collected 3,740 Intake Screening samples during the seven-day period between June 27th and July 3rd, representing all 30 Clubs.  As of the end of Sunday, July 5th, the Utah laboratory had reported results for 98% (3,654/3,740) of these samples.  The majority of these samples were reported the day after the sample collections occurred.
 
86 results of these samples (2%) remained pending as of this morning.  We anticipate that the lab will report the remainder of these pending results this afternoon.

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Pursuant to the Operations Manual, MLB and the MLBPA shifted from intake testing to regular asymptomatic monitoring as of July 3rd, and will now be on an every-other-day testing schedule for all players and Tier 1 staff until the end of the 2020 World Series.  Due to the holiday weekend, the Joint Committee advised CDT to test all Clubs one time between July 3rd and July 5th, and to begin the every-other-day schedule on July 6th.
 
The Utah laboratory is conducting a level of analysis and turnaround time that is unprecedented in COVID testing, including providing an extra layer of confirmation for all positive test results to rule out false-positive concerns.  The laboratory is operating on a seven-day-a-week schedule from July 5th through the end of the World Series.

Transparency and trust will continue to be keys to the chances of the 2020 MLB season as much as contact tracing and mitigation. The league already being in a public tussle with teams about testing is yet another early challenge for pulling off a 60-game season.

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Nationals cut trumpet inspiration Bonifacio, after mistake filled start

Nationals cut trumpet inspiration Bonifacio, after mistake filled start

Thursday marked the first -- and last -- cut down deadline of the 2020 baseball season.

Rosters need to be trimmed from 30 to 28, but will hold at 28 for the rest of the season as opposed to dipping to 26. Multiple coronavirus outbreaks have caused a multitude of scheduling problems. So, Major League Baseball decided to leave the rosters expanded for the remainder of the season.

The Nationals chose to send reliever James Bourque to the alternate training site in Fredericksburg and designated utility man Emilio Bonifácio for assignment.

These were simple and direct moves. The signing of Josh Harrison and Juan Soto’s return meant Bonifácio was expendable. His upbeat vibe -- and creation of the trumpet celebration -- was not enough to keep him on the roster.

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Borque pitched 1 ⅓ innings out of the bullpen. He was the last option among the large reliever group.

The expanded rosters allow the Nationals -- and everyone else -- to wade through the rest of the season with more pitching. It will be necessary to handle prospective doubleheaders and other scheduling problems the remainder of the season.

The Nationals are 4-5 after losing 3-1 to the New York Mets on Wednesday. They were off Thursday. Baltimore comes to Nationals Park for a three-game series beginning Friday.

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Nationals cancel 2021 Winterfest due to COVID-19

Nationals cancel 2021 Winterfest due to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic will prevent fans from attending Nationals games during the 2020 season and it appears will also cost them an annual offseason tradition.

The Nationals announced Wednesday their plans to cancel Winterfest 2021. The convention was originally scheduled for January 2021.

"Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Winterfest 2021, which was scheduled to be held in January," the team said in a statement. "We know how important this event is to our fans. That said, we look forward to offering a variety of alternative opportunities for our community to come together to celebrate our team."

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Details regarding the alternative opportunities are unknown as of this writing. 

In the meantime, Washington will continue to play its 2020 season without fans. They are 4-5 entering a series with the Orioles Friday and had to take four days off after the Marlins experienced a COVID-19 outbreak within their clubhouse and the Nats' series with Miami was postponed. 

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