JULY 17: The club has confirmed that it will play its home games at Nationals Park, Dougherty tweets. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Nationals reached a deal with the government. The agreement says players who are exposed to COVID-19 but test negative and are cleared to return will have to quarantine at their residences for 14 days when they’re away from the ballpark. However, they’ll be allowed to play as long as they follow MLB protocols. Those players will also be permitted to play on the road, but they’ll have to stay in their hotel rooms when they’re not at the park.
JULY 16: The reigning World Series champion Nationals are scheduled to start their title defense at home against the Yankees next Thursday, but it’s possible the teams’ series will take part outside of Washington, D.C. Because of coronavirus concerns, the Nationals are exploring alternate sites for the beginning of the season, Jesse Dougherty and Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post report.
According to the health protocols in Washington, any player, coach or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 would have to quarantine for two weeks. D.C. is not willing to make an exception to the quarantine policy for the Nationals, so the club has begun seeking contingency plans. The Nats’ Single-A stadium in Fredericksburg, Va., as well as their spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., are possibilities, according to Dougherty. Virginia would be the more likely venue, Dougherty suggests.
The coronavirus has had a major impact on the Nationals in recent weeks. Even before this news came about, the club had issues with receiving COVID testing results in a timely manner, and three of their players – Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and Welington Castillo – opted out of the season over health concerns. The problems the Nationals have faced further illustrate how difficult it will be for MLB to pull off a season, even a 60-game version.