- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Twelve people, including four players, within the Washington Nationals organization have tested positive for the coronavirus, manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday, shortly after MLB postponed that night’s game to allow for additional testing and contact tracing.

Of those 12 individuals — the bulk of whom are staff members — some are displaying symptoms, although no one is “really, really ill,” Martinez said. The manager also said he thinks all but one of the 12 people who tested positive are vaccinated. The outbreak comes one day after shortstop Trea Turner tested positive Tuesday.

MLB announced the Nationals and Phillies will play a straight doubleheader beginning at 12:05 p.m. Thursday, but that plan is contingent on Washington returning no more positive tests.

“I’m very concerned,” Martinez said. “We all took rapid tests today. We’ll follow up. We’ll get additional results tomorrow. Hopefully no one else will test positive, but yeah, there is some concern here right now. As soon as the game got canceled, I got everyone out of here and on a bus and back to the hotel. I wanted to do the same thing myself and get back there and get out of here so they can clean this place up.”

Martinez hopes to have another batch of test results Thursday morning. Those results will dictate if the doubleheader can go on as scheduled. Washington will also need to make roster moves to supplement its squad, with at least four players missing.

This is Washington’s third run-in with the coronavirus this season, and it comes two days ahead of the trade deadline. To begin the year, the Nationals had 11 players and two staff members impacted by the coronavirus after four players tested positive. That led to the postponement of Opening Day.

In May, pitcher Erick Fedde tested positive for the coronavirus, and reliever Tanner Rainey was placed in coronavirus protocols as a close contact. Fedde was vaccinated, and Washington has passed the 85% vaccination threshold that allows for relaxed coronavirus protocols.

Turner had his positive test return midway through the first inning of Tuesday’s game. He was in the starting lineup, batting second, and reached on an infield single. He later scored on Josh Bell’s three-run home run, but he immediately ran down the tunnel to isolate once he was informed of his positive test.

After Tuesday’s game, Martinez said there were no close contacts to Turner. But after the entire team underwent rapid testing, more positive cases followed. The team tried to push through and play Wednesday “up to a certain point,” Martinez said. “Then as we kept getting results back from the rapid test, we’re missing a lot of guys. And it’s tough. You’re talking about 12 guys. That’s a lot.”

Martinez described the symptoms for the few who have them as mild.

“I do believe the vaccinations have helped that in a big way,” Martinez said. “And I encourage people to get vaccinated. It does help. I’ve seen it first-hand. The guys that are getting sick, it’s just basically kind of a small head cold, but they’re doing fine.”

Some of the players drove to Philadelphia themselves, and Martinez said he thinks they’ll have permission to drive home rather than stay isolated at the hotel. But before players can return to play, they’ll have to test negative multiple times.

“When this all goes down, I really worry about the health and safety of everybody in our clubhouse and everyone else who could be affected — families,” Martinez said. “… If there’s any positives out of this whole thing, we were above 85% vaccinated. We did come positive, but nobody is really, really ill, and I think it’s because we did get vaccinated, and it does help.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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