WASHINGTON – In the last Major League 2020 baseball game, the Los Angeles Dodgers were forced remove third-grader Justin Turner from the last moments of the World Series after learning he was positive for coronavirus.
It was one of many positive tests that MLB had to deal with during the shortened season, and there is hope that in 2021, with a complete schedule of 162 games and some fans who are allowed to attend, they will feel at least a little more normal.
But as the league prepared for its opening day on Thursday, it was reminded that the problem was not gone. The Washington Nationals announced Wednesday that one of their players was positive for coronavirus and that due to contact search protocols, four more players and one staff member who had close contact with that player will be out of the game against a visit to Mets on Thursday.
Citizens did not name a player who was positive or others who are in the protocols, but Mike Rizzo, the team’s general manager, said he found out about the positive test around Wednesday around 1:20 p.m. The team flew to Washington on Monday after the last spring practice game.
A positive test also happened on Monday, Rizzo said. He added that the team did not have positive test results during the six weeks of spring training.
Team staff received more tests on Wednesday, but Rizzo said he had no results when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday afternoon. It is possible that the number of players in the protocols could change before Thursday’s game, but Rizzo said the game is unlikely to be postponed.
“We have a long season ahead of us,” Rizzo said. “The difference this year is 162 and we are ready for the long run. This is just a small glimpse of our radar screen. We will solve it and take it in step. “
Max Scherzer, the scheduled starting pitcher for the Nationale on Thursday, said he was flying back with his family, separate from the team, and that he was still expecting a performance.
“We did so well in the spring training sessions, everyone in the game,” Scherzer said. “We have seen so few positive cases during spring training as a whole. It just shows how fast it can turn. “
Last year, Juan Soto, National’s main outfielder, missed the first eight games of the season after being positive for coronavirus before the team’s season opener against the Yankees. Soto later said he thought it was a false positive.
Also in 2020, MLB suspended activities during spring training in March due to a pandemic. When the league returned in July and began its regular season of 60 games, several teams postponed games due to positive tests.
Turner’s positive test forced him to be knocked out of Game 6 of the World Series before the start of the eighth inning. He was criticized for returning to the field join the Dodgers Championship celebration, especially because he appeared in a team photo without a face mask.
Baseball executives, players, employees and fans are still hoping for a more normal season this year, but the discovery of a positive test on Wednesday served as a reminder to keep expectations.
“It’s going to be a little more normal than it was last year,” Rizzo said of the opening day, “but certainly far from normal.”