The Nationals’ season-opening series was postponed due to COVID-19 spread within the organization. As things currently stand, Washington is scheduled to host the Braves on Monday afternoon to kick off their season. Even if the Nats are able to return, they’ll be without a handful of key players.
Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, Josh Harrison and Alex Avila are among the players expected to be sidelined if the Nationals begin play early next week, reports Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. Four Nats players have tested positive for the coronavirus, while five more are currently in quarantine as close contacts. It isn’t clear which (if any) of Schwarber, Lester, Harrison and Avila have tested positive versus being close contacts. Under the league’s 2021 health and safety protocols, an individual who tests positive is subject to a 10-day quarantine period, while close contacts are subject to seven-day quarantines. The identities of the other five players currently in quarantine are not yet known.
Avila’s potential absence could’ve played a role in the Nationals’ decision to sign veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy to a minor league deal on Saturday night. If Avila is forced to miss time, Washington would be down to Yan Gomes and Tres Barrera as the only catchers on the 40-man roster. Barrera, initially optioned to the alternate training site, was among the handful of players reportedly slated to be recalled in the spread’s initial aftermath.