The Washington Nationals made it three days before they decided to shut down their workouts at Nationals Park because of coronavirus concerns.
“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for Covid-19 on Friday, July 3rd,” Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests. We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp. Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”
The team announced two positive tests Sunday. They were both from the initial intake process which took place July 1. Those players were quarantined. In the meantime, the organization was awaiting further results -- a fledgling process which was coming under more and more scrutiny across the league. The organization’s decision to stop practicing came Monday morning.
Sunday, Sean Doolittle stated his concern about the lag in testing results -- Major League Baseball is using a lab in Salt Lake City, Utah -- as well as dissatisfaction with the limited PPE available to teams.
The Nationals practiced under extensive precautions during workouts, stressing safety and responsibility for everyone involved. Some players wore masks on the field (they are not mandated to do so). They used the home and visiting clubhouses, as well as an auxiliary space. Workouts were spread out from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. None of it was enough to keep “summer camp” going.
Multiple players across the league have now tested positive for COVID-19 and expressed concern about whether the 60-game season can be played. The Nationals are scheduled to host the New York Yankees on July 23 as the marquee game to start the truncated season. Now, on the day the schedule was reportedly set to be released, the whole thing is in jeopardy after the defending World Series champions decided to pause their practices.
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