The Nationals’ 2021 season won’t begin tonight, and at this point, it’s too soon to know for certain when it will be commence after Major League Baseball postponed the scheduled opener against the Mets due to ongoing contact tracing within the Nationals organization following Wednesday’s discovery that a player tested positive for COVID-19.
No makeup date has been determined, but the league said in a statement that the game will not be played Friday “out of an abundance of caution.”
The Nationals learned early Wednesday morning that one player had tested positive for COVID-19, and determined four more players and one staff member had been designated as close contacts to that player. All were placed in quarantine at their D.C. area homes and all were going to be ineligible to play in tonight’s planned nationally televised opener at Nationals Park.
The team was then waiting for results of another round of tests taken Wednesday, which they knew could lead to more players being deemed ineligible. As the results of those tests, plus more contact tracing, come in later today, decisions will be made about the statuses of future games.
For now, the Nationals and Mets are scheduled to play Saturday at 4:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m. But based on the manner in which MLB handled similar situations last summer, it would not be surprising if the league takes an ultra-cautious approach and postpones one or more of those games if there is still reason to believe any uniformed personnel could put others on the field at risk.
It’s the first time a game has been postponed due to a COVID-19 issue involving the Nationals, though several of their games last season were postponed and rescheduled following outbreaks among opposing teams.
The Nationals had zero positive tests throughout spring training. They conducted their final round of testing in West Palm Beach, Fla., before Monday’s Grapefruit League finale, then boarded a charter flight for Washington that evening. Players had Tuesday off to settle into their D.C. homes and apartments, then were scheduled to hold a workout at Nationals Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday’s workout was then canceled due to rain, though by that point, the club also had learned of the one positive COVID-19 test.