Baseball’s Opening Day Rocked by Covid-19 Tests for Nationals Star Juan Soto
By: Alex Oh
Like many other sports leagues, Major League Baseball has come back after months of planning its return. The return, while providing the fans with many entertaining games, was not without its struggles. About 5 hours before the Washington Nationals were scheduled to play the first game against the New York Yankees, the team’s star outfielder, Juan Soto, tested positive for Covid-19.
After being tested, the player took “multiple, rapid-response coronavirus tests,”, all negative. Despite these more recent tests, Soto is required to sit out until he receives two lab-confirmed negative tests that are spaced 24 hours apart.
The incident demonstrated how hard it will be to contain the spread of the virus during the abridged season, even with the MLB’s protocols.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the MLB is issuing tests for players every other day, with results coming back within 48 hours. Soto gave his saliva sample on Tuesday, then played in an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles. On Wednesday, he participated in a team workout at Nationals Park. It was Thursday when the team received the news that Soto’s test on Tuesday was positive.
The Nationals were tested again on Thursday, but manager Dave Martinez said that results weren’t expected until late Friday. This means that the team will have to play another game without knowing if any of its other players had contracted the virus.
Due to contract tracing, all players, with the exception of Soto, will be allowed to play that game. “At this time there is nobody else unavailable because of the contact tracing. We are casting a wide net, and at this point there’s nobody else that is ineligible because of the contact tracing,” Rizzo told reporters. “They’re going to play this game tonight, with or without Juan Soto.”
Despite the uncertainty of the situation, Yankees manager Aaron Boone was not concerned about following through on Thursday's game. “No hesitation. We knew what we signed up for,” Boone said. “We knew this was going to be a reality on given days. We’re doing a lot to feel safe, and we also understand there are some risks that go with that, and I’m comfortable doing that.”