A scheduled Monday workout was canceled by the Washington Nationals as a precaution as they await results of team-wide coronavirus testing.
Nationals president and general manager Mike Rizzo said all players and staff were tested Friday and without timely and accurate testing deemed it unsafe “for us to continue with Summer Camp.”
The Houston Astros, who lost to the Nationals in the 2019 World Series, also canceled Monday’s workout.
Rizzo called on Major League Baseball to quickly “resolve issues with their process and their lab.”
“Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests,” Rizzo said. “We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have canceled our team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. … Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve the issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”
Astros general manager James Click said the team is in limbo awaiting test results, which prompted the cancellation of Monday’s practice.
“The safety of our players and staff remains our top priority at the Astros. The team is still awaiting results from COVID-19 tests taken on Friday. Due to the delay in receiving these results, coupled with the contagious nature of the virus, we felt it was prudent to cancel today’s workouts at Minute Maid Park and the University of Houston. Players and staff continue to participate fully in the screening and testing protocols while we await these results. Despite these delays over the holiday weekend, we’re optimistic that the process will be ironed out and we’ll be back on the field and ready to compete for a championship soon.”
Two Nationals players tested positive for coronavirus — swabs were taken two days earlier on Wednesday for those players — creating urgency to receive results for players who have been in contact with those individuals.
Rizzo’s tone echoed Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle, who said Sunday that the team still hasn’t received promised personal protection equipment — such as masks and gloves — for at-risk individuals. Doolittle said he was stunned not to have test results. He plans to opt out of the 2020 season if the coronavirus pandemic becomes a strain on his mental health.
“I think I’m planning on playing,” Doolittle told reporters on Sunday during a Zoom call. “But if at any point I start to feel unsafe, if it starts to take a toll on my mental health with all these things we have to worry about and kind of this cloud of uncertainty hanging over everything, then I’ll opt out. But for now, I’ve prepared for the last three months like I’m going to play. I feel ready to go.”
The 33-year-old Doolittle also pointed out the irony of starting the season later this month with the coronavirus outbreak still out of control.
“We’re trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that’s killed (nearly) 130,000 people (in the United States),” Doolittle said. “We’re way worse off as a country than where we were in March when we shut this thing down.
“And like, look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back. Sports are like the reward of a functional society, and we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve, whatever you want to say.”