Welcome to Opening Day 2021! The celebration was somewhat muted after general manager Mike Rizzo addressed the media and informed them that one player tested positive for COVID-19 and four other players and one staff member will be held-out after they were identified in contact tracing to the player who tested positive. While none of those players have been named as of yet, it should be a simple matter of seeing who is not on the roster to determine who the five players are unless one or more were players scheduled to play at the Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, Virgina.
The affected players and staff member are now quarantined and are not allowed to enter the stadium until they are cleared to return. Many teams last year were returning players after two consecutive negative tests and the team must adhere to the MLB covid protocols, but the Nats, while in Washington, D.C., will have to conform to the more stringent D.C. health and safety standards just like last year when this became am issue.
“We’re still in the process of finding out exactly what their status is,” Rizzo said on today’s call. “They certainly will be out for tomorrow’s game, and we’re going to adjust from there depending on what MLB protocol dictates.”
The irony and shame of this is that the Nats went an entire Spring Training with no issues and just like last year the team had the pre-Opening Day shocker when Juan Soto tested positive and in his case was presumed to have been a false positive by Soto who called it a “fake positive.”
Every signal points to the game going on as scheduled for Opening Day, weather permitting. Yes, the weather forecast looks like it will be dry, windy, and cold with temperatures in the 30°s.
As rumored, the Nationals will activate players they officially assigned to their alternate training site in Fredericksburg. Names mentioned so far are IF Luis Garcia, OF Yadiel Hernandez, C Tres Barrera, and LHP Sam Clay. What is interesting is that there is basically one player at each position. Final rosters are due at noon so we should know shortly.
“The reason for the alternate site being so close is exactly for this scenario playing out now,” Rizzo said. “We’re certainly prepared for it, no matter the numbers they throw at us. Hey, we’ve got a game tomorrow night against deGrom and the Mets, and we are going to field the best team we can to win that game and moving forward.”
On this day, we are usually debating the batting order and who would be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. With first pitch scheduled at 7:09 pm, we have a long day to add in information as it comes in during the morning.
If you decide you want to attend the game, there were about 70 pairs of tickets available for about $145 per ticket to $299 per ticket plus fees on StubHub. Compared to the estimates of $700 to $1,200 per ticket, the prices normalized and look like what you would expect for a regular Opening Day, but those usually have 42,000 fans in attendance and for this COVID restricted game, only 5,000 fans will be allowed into the stadium.