Juan Soto Gets COVID-19 Right Before Opening Game With the Yankees

By: Evan Mei

Washington Nationals manager Mike Rizzo says that outfielder Juan Soto has just tested positive for COVID-19. Soto was absent during Thursday's game against the Yankees at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. It is currently unknown when Soto will be able to return to the field. Although he was present at a game against the Orioles on Tuesday, none of the other Nationals have had a positive test result.

Soto, who is 21, had arrived to summer camp late due to contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. Rizzo says that Soto is asymptomatic at the moment. When announcing the roster for opening day, the Nationals did not include Soto’s name.

Two other players, Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross, had to leave the 2020 season in late June due to positive COVID-19 tests. Soto is amongst the few players who have tested positive in the MLB, as have Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, and Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo.

The latest round of COVID-19 testing in the MLB was very promising, as the positive rate was 0.05 percent. However, these figures may change as the season kicks off and players visit one another’s stadiums. Fast and reliable COVID-19 testing is one of the biggest challenges the MLB is currently facing.

If a player is infected with COVID-19, there is no minimum or maximum stay at home order, however the player must test negative twice, show no symptoms for 72 hours, and the team doctors must approve of the player’s return.

Last season, Soto was a star in the Nationals, in which he scored a 282./.401/.548 (138OPS+) slash line in 150 games. Soto tied with Anthony Rendon for the most home runs on the Nationals, and has a huge role in Washington’s offense.

Soto also finished with the club’s fifth best WAR (4.6), just behind Stephen Strasburg in his second big-league season. In the 2018 season Soto was second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. In 2019, Soto hit a .277/.373/.554 in 17 playoff games.

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