Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Mets-Nationals Series Is Postponed Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Four Nationals players and a staff member have tested positive. The teams will try to play on Monday, against new opponents.

A day after pushing back the Mets’ season-opening game in Washington because of a coronavirus outbreak on the Nationals, Major League Baseball postponed the teams’ three-game weekend series on Friday. The league said it needed more time for follow-up testing and contact tracing after four Nationals players tested positive this week.

The Mets now will play their first game of the season on Monday in Philadelphia, several hours after the Nationals are scheduled to host the Atlanta Braves. Baseball officials are hopeful that the Nationals will be cleared to play by then, as long as their players continue to test negative during the layoff.

If the Nationals do start on Monday, their roster will be significantly compromised. The players who tested positive cannot return until at least 10 days from their positive tests, and those in close contact must miss at least seven days. The Nationals could fill those roster spots with players from their minor-league camp in Fredericksburg, Va.

“We’re in crisis-management mode,” National General Manager Mike Rizzo said, adding later: “We have confidence in our depth. We like the players we have in Fredericksburg and we’re going to rely heavily on them.”

Rizzo said the Nationals hoped to be cleared to work out at their ballpark on Saturday. The Mets practiced there on Friday and plan to do so again on Saturday and Sunday before leaving for Philadelphia, where Jacob deGrom will start Monday’s delayed season opener.

“We know that we can make the adjustment,” Mets Manager Luis Rojas said. “We want to play this weekend, but there’s an unfortunate situation here. I shared our sympathy with the Nationals. It could happen to anybody.”

Rizzo said he did not believe the Nationals’ players had violated protocols, but the team was still trying to determine how their players were infected.

“A virus is a virus, it’s very contagious, so I think that it could happen in many, many different ways,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a breach of protocols or inadequate protocols, it’s just something that happened and we’re going to try to find out how it happened, investigate it and see if we can stop it from happening again.”

For M.L.B., last summer’s outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals highlighted the importance of contact tracing to containing the spread of the virus. Players are given wearable devices now to help identify close contacts.

Baseball officials said on Friday that the league had conducted 14,354 tests in the past week, with only four positives — three Nationals players and one staff member who is not with the Nationals — through Thursday. A fourth Washington player tested positive on Friday. Rizzo said one of the players has had a fever but was recovering.

“He’s feeling much better, close to normal,” Rizzo said of the player, whom he did not identify. “And the other players feel fine, they have no symptoms.”

Since the start of spring training, M.L.B. said that it has administered 92,896 tests — counting monitoring and intake testing — and found 38 total positives (28 players and 10 staff members), for a positive rate of 0.04 percent.

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