Turner cleared to play, nine veterans placed on IL

The Nationals have unveiled their opening day roster, and as expected, it’s missing a whole lot of prominent veterans. Though not Trea Turner.

The club’s 26-man roster does not include Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, Yan Gomes, Alex Avila, Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester, Brad Hand or Jordy Mercer. All were officially placed on the injured list, with no reason or timeline given. Only four of them actually tested positive for COVID-19; the others were deemed close contacts either by Major League Baseball or the D.C. Department of Health protocols and were thus placed into mandatory quarantine.

Thumbnail image for Trea-Turner-swing-blue-sidebar.jpgTurner, however, did make the roster and is in today’s starting lineup against the Braves despite not participating in Monday’s workout at Nationals Park. Manager Davey Martinez didn’t provide specific details when asked, but suggested Turner wasn’t cleared until sometime after the workout ended.

“He wasn’t available,” Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “We had him complete (PCR saliva) tests. He spit negative every test. We just couldn’t get him out there yesterday, but he’s available to go today.”

Turner’s inclusion in a lineup that also features Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Ryan Zimmerman and Starlin Castro helps soften the blow of the massive roster holes created by last week’s COVID-19 outbreak. But the list of inactive players is long and significant.

The Nationals aren’t saying when they expect the nine quarantined players (plus two staff members) to be cleared to rejoin the club. But they won’t necessarily all return en masse. Each is facing his own set of protocols and will be cleared on a separate timeline from the others.

“We’re going to follow all protocols, and when they deem these guys able to come off, we’ll get them back,” Martinez said. “I can’t tell you when it’s going to be, but hopefully sooner than later.”

In the meantime, the Nationals will proceed with an active roster that includes nine players who weren’t expected to be on the club when spring training ended eight days ago: relievers Sam Clay, Ryne Harper and Kyle McGowin; catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Tres Barrera; infielders Luis García and Carter Kieboom; and outfielders Yadiel Hernandez and Cody Wilson.

Clay (a 27-year-old lefty acquired from the Twins) and Wilson (a 24-year-old speedster drafted in the 13th round in 2018) have never been on a big league roster before. Lucroy, a 34-year-old with 1,203 games of experience with seven different major league clubs, was only signed over the weekend when the Nationals realized they would have no experienced catchers.

“We talked to him. He’s had conversations with Max. He’s had conversations with (pitching coach Jim) Hickey,” Martinez said of Lucroy, who was with the White Sox this spring. “He’s a veteran guy that’s caught a lot of pretty good pitchers over the years. I feel like he can handle Max very well.”

In addition to the nine players placed on the IL for unspecified reasons and an unspecified timeline, the Nationals also placed reliever Will Harris on the 10-day IL with right hand inflammation. The veteran right-hander missed the second half of spring training while addressing what initially was believed to be a blood clot in his arm but was discovered not to exist during a procedure performed by a specialist in St. Louis.

Harris has been cleared to begin throwing again, according to Martinez, but will need to slowly build his arm back up again after the long layoff. He’ll report to the alternate training site in Fredericksburg in the near future to start that process.

Here’s the official opening day roster:

PITCHERS (13): Luis Avilán, Sam Clay, Erick Fedde, Kyle Finnegan, Ryne Harper, Daniel Hudson, Kyle McGowin, Tanner Rainey, Joe Ross, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Wander Suero, Austin Voth

CATCHERS (2): Tres Barrera, Jonathan Lucroy

INFIELDERS (6): Starlin Castro, Luis García, Carter Kieboom, Hernán Pérez, Trea Turner, Ryan Zimmerman

OUTFIELDERS (5): Yadiel Hernandez, Victor Robles, Juan Soto, Andrew Stevenson, Cody Wilson

10-DAY IL: Will Harris (right hand inflammation)

UNSPECIFIED IL: Alex Avila, Josh Bell, Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Brad Hand, Josh Harrison, Jon Lester, Jordy Mercer, Kyle Schwarber

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