Nationals To Start The Season Without Juan Soto

The Nationals are going to be starting their season without their star left-fielder.

Juan Soto, the 21-year-old phenom outfielder for the Nationals will be sitting out for a while thanks to the coronavirus. Soto received his positive test result after being tested – and playing in a scrimmage against Baltimore – on Tuesday. At this time, none of his teammates are being sidelined for possibly being exposed to the asymptomatic Soto based on contract tracing.

Soto missed the first two weeks of Spring Training 2.0 due to “undisclosed reasons” and joined the team on July 16. He’ll have to stay away from the team until he can get negative test results twice in a row. Now I’m not one to speculate, but I’m totally going to speculate here…. D.C. has a mandatory 14 day self-quarantine for anyone who comes in contact with an exposed individual, so one has to assume that the “undisclosed reasons” that caused his late arrival to camp equated to exposure to the virus. MLB can’t release positive test results or exposure/quarantine status without a player’s permission, so we’ll likely could see a lot of players sitting out for “undisclosed reasons” in the months ahead.

With D.C.’s self quarantine mandate in place, it makes one wonder if the Nationals are going to be put in a tough position now having to isolate players that have been in close contact with Soto, despite their current decision not to have anyone else sitting out.

Nationals teammates aside, what about the Baltimore players that might have been in close contact with Soto – specifically catchers Pedro Severino and Bryan Holaday? They would have been nearest to Soto during the game, so will they have to self quarantine? What about the umpires? What about Orioles second baseman Hanser Alberto – he was near Soto when he hit a double in the 4th inning, or third baseman Rio Ruiz when Soto advanced?. Or what about Chris Davis when Soto got on first in the sixth? Did they all confidently keep a safe distance from Soto when he was standing near them? If they ended up contracting the ‘rona from Soto, when will they test positive, and how many teammates or players on opposing teams might they infect until they do test positive? And what then about the players and umpires that those players come in contact with?

These are the types of questions that make me wonder how on earth we’ll see all 60 games plus a post season, when we didn’t even make it to the first pitch of Opening Night without a starting player potentially exposing his team and an opposing team during a scrimmage. The Nationals already lost first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross when they opted to sit out for the season, and it makes you wonder how many players – Nationals or league-wide – might start opting out if it turns out that an asymptomatic Soto ended up infecting teammates through no fault of his own.

For now, all we can do is send well wishes and good, healing vibes Soto’s way, and hope that his case is (and remains) isolated one. Baseball fans everywhere are hopeful to see a full (er, 60 game) season.

What say you, readers? Leave a comment below.