- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Washington Nationals are the latest sports team to change how players sign autographs for fans due to fears of spreading coronavirus.

Rather than accepting items from fans to sign during spring training, the Nationals will only distribute pre-signed items, including during their “Spring Training Signature Sundays” while in West Palm Beach, Florida for the next few weeks.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all Nationals personnel, including players and coaches, have been advised to avoid shaking hands and/or exchanging items (i.e. pens, balls, jerseys, etc.),” a statement from the team read.

Fans who have vouchers for “Spring Training Signature Sundays” no longer can bring an item of their choice to be signed, but will be provided an item by the team instead.

The English Premier League has banned handshakes and teams in the NBA also have stopped traditional autograph signing while COVID-19 continues to spread. More than 100,000 cases have been diagnosed worldwide.

The U.S. death toll reached 17 Friday night when two victims died in Florida, where the Nationals and roughly half of Major League Baseball teams are camped out for spring training.

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

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