Two Nationals players tested positive for COVID-19 during the team’s initial intake testing program, manager Davey Martinez revealed today.
The club has not publicly identified the names of the two players and may only do so with the players’ permission, per Major League Baseball’s protocols this season. No player is allowed to report to Nationals Park before the intake testing results are returned, so neither player who tested positive has been to the stadium yet and come into contact with teammates or staff members.
All 58 players who are participating in summer training underwent the intake testing over the last week. The vast majority of those tests results have come back, but a handful - primarily Latin American players who were traveling to Washington from greater distances - are still awaiting results.
“Everybody assumed that everybody (that) got in got tested on Wednesday. That wasn’t the case for us,” Martinez said. “We’ve still got guys out there that came in late and are still waiting on the results. ... Hopefully, we’ll get all these results tomorrow and guys will start trickling in and get ready to work out.”
Because workouts are spread throughout the day - running from 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - only a few players are on the field at a time. And with media members restricted to two- to three-hour access windows to the press box, it hasn’t been possible to identify every player who has been cleared to participate yet.
The news isn’t necessarily unexpected. MLB announced Friday that 38 of 3,185 total samples collected during mandatory intake screening tested positive. Nineteen different clubs had one or more individuals test positive during intake testing.
That didn’t make it any less concerning for team officials.
“It definitely hurts,” Martinez said. “One, you think about the player. Two, you think about if they have families, if they have kids, and hope that they’re all OK. And then hope that they become asymptomatic and they don’t get that virus that a lot of people did get and get really sick. Only time will tell with that when they get this virus. It attacks everybody differently, as we all know. For me, I hope that they come out of it OK and they’re back with us as soon as possible.”
Players and staffers who test positive are only allowed to return to camp once they’ve been symptom-free for 72 hours and then test negative twice within a span of 24 hours.
Once players are cleared to participate in camp, they undergo testing every two days. The timeframe for testing results from MLB’s facility in Utah is supposed to be 24 hours, but Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle noted today he has yet to receive results from the test he took Friday. He already took his next required test this morning, before knowing the results of his last test.
“So we’ve got to clean that up, right?” Doolittle said. “That’s one thing that makes me a little nervous.”