- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2020

The Washington Nationals canceled Monday’s workout because they had yet to receive results from COVID-19 tests administered to the players Friday.

The uncertainty over whether any more players had tested positive for the coronavirus made it unsafe for the team to report to Nationals Park, according to general manager Mike Rizzo.

“Per MLB’s protocol, all players and staff were tested for COVID-19 on July 3. Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests,” Rizzo said in a statement. “We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have canceled our team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families.

“Without accurate and timely testing,” Rizzo added, “it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp. Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk.”

Just one day earlier, Washington closer Sean Doolittle said Major League Baseball needed to do a better job of turning around test results quickly. Health protocols call for all players to be tested every other day; Doolittle pointed out that he’d been tested again on Sunday morning without having Friday’s results back yet.

The Nationals weren’t the only team affected.

The Houston Astros were forced to cancel their workouts Monday for the same reason. The Los Angeles Angels pushed their Monday practice back several hours to accommodate late-arriving results.

On Sunday, the Oakland Athletics reportedly called off a portion of their planned workouts because their testing results still hadn’t been shipped to their designated lab.

In a statement, MLB responded by saying the “process has not been without some unforeseen difficulties,” but that the lab in Utah it’s partnered with had reported results for 98% of player intake tests by Sunday.

“Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend,” the statement said in part. “The vast majority of those deliveries occurred without incident and allowed the protocols to function as planned. Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays. We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence. We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by canceling workouts.”

However, any real or perceived failures of the league’s health protocols could sway players to opt out of the season if they don’t feel protected from the coronavirus.”

As the season moves forward, as we continue spring training, especially once we start traveling, those results got to be back,” Doolittle said Sunday. “That’s one of the biggest things: that there were a lot of guys that were on the fence that decided to try to play, to see how this was going to go, because we were going to have our results within 48 hours. So hopefully that’s something that we can address and improve moving forward.”

The Nationals have had two players test positive for COVID-19 so far, according to the team. Those players have not reported to the ballpark, where summer training has been under way since Friday.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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