The Washington Nationals inched closer Saturday to finally opening the regular season. The team reportedly experienced no new positive COVID-19 results in their latest batch of tests, according to Britt Ghiroli and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Nationals have yet to open the 2021 MLB season after a positive COVID-19 test prior to the team's opening game. As a result, MLB postponed the team's opener against the New York Mets. There was hope the Nationals could have returned to play Saturday's contest, but the team experienced more positive tests Friday, causing MLB to postpone the entire series.
Saturday's news provides hope the Nationals will be able to open the season Monday against the Atlanta Braves. The team, however, will wait until another round of testing before it restarts team workouts.
The Nationals are hoping to be cleared for workouts this weekend. It's possible that happens Sunday if the team returns another batch of negative tests.
Nationals will be without players against Braves
If the Nationals are cleared to return to action, they'll be without a handful of players against the Braves. Under 2021 MLB rules, players who test positive for COVID-19 have to isolate for 10 days before they can return. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo revealed four players on the team have tested positive thus far, though did not name those players.
Anyone who registers as a close contact to those players will miss seven days, meaning the Nationals could be without a minimum of 9 players for the series. MLB teams can carry a 5-man taxi squad this season to cover for COVID-19 absences. The Nationals would presumably call up all those players against the Braves, but that would still leave Washington a few players short of a full roster.
It's unclear how the Nationals — and MLB — will solve that situation if the team is cleared to play Monday.
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