Major League Baseball experienced its first major coronavirus outbreak of the 2020 season when 17 Marlins players and staff members reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
The outbreak resulted in the postponement of several games, including Miami's series with Baltimore this week and their series hosting the Nationals over the weekend. The Phillies, who played the Marlins before the reported outbreak, had their series against the Yankees postponed as well.
Before the league suspended the Nationals series, Washington was put in a difficult position. Risk traveling into a COVID-19 hotspot against a team that just had nearly half its roster test positive, or stay home and potentially sacrifice three games on an already short schedule.
Wednesday morning, general manager Mike Rizzo joined The Sports Junkies to explain his team's mindset on the issues inside the Marlins clubhouse.
"Because of the situation the Marlins are in and the way things are in Miami, Florida, it was a little bit too risky to take a trip to Miami," Rizzo said. "I feel so sorry for Don Mattingly and the rest of the Marlins family because they're in a tough spot. You lost that amount of players, you care for those guys, you worry about those guys and now you have all these scheduling issues. Baseball is probably the last thing on their mind right now."
Players voted on not going to Miami and the league ultimately stalled the series. However, had the league not postponed the series, Rizzo would've been open to the idea of having the Marlins travel to Nats park to play in a lower-risk environment.
"I trust the protocols that are in place," he said. "If MLB protocols and team protocols felt that it was safe enough and we were prepared enough, I would've fell in line with the rest of the league. We trust that MLB is doing the right thing and working extremely hard, the amount of communication we've had and the effort that's going into this thing is immense and amazing."
The Nats won't have to worry about hosting the Marlins this weekend. They can take a few days off after what's been a slow start to the season and potentially make up those games at a later date. Some experts have floated the idea of MLB using winning percentage to determine standings if every team can't play 60 games.
According to Rizzo, the plan is to get all 30 teams to play a full schedule, one that doesn't include "dangerous" triple-headers.
"I think the plan is we're going to try and make up the games, be it the double-header route or something like that," he said. "I think we're going to try and play 60 games for each team if it's possible.
"I think triple-headers would be dangerous because that's too many innings in one day for players to play," he said. "You'd need a boat-load of pitching to get through three games."
In the meantime, the Nationals can focus on the final two games of their series against the Blue Jays on Wednesday and Thursday, then host the Mets on Tuesday of next week. By then, we could be looking at a Nats lineup with Juan Soto occupying the middle of the order.
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