Washington Nationals cancel workout because of COVID-19 testing delay

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Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman

In this Tuesday, March 10, 2020, file photo, Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman waits for a pitch from Miami Marlins pitcher Caleb Smith during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, in Jupiter, Fla. Longtime infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross are opting out of playing the 2020 season as Major League Baseball tries to get back amid the COVID-19 pandemic. General manager Mike Rizzo says the team is 100% supportive of Zimmerman and Ross deciding not to play. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The defending World Series champion Nationals canceled their workout Monday because of COVID-19 testing delays that general manager Mike Rizzo worried could endanger the baseball season.

All players and staff were tested Friday, and Rizzo said the team still hasn’t received those results. The cancellation came a day after All-Star reliever Sean Doolittle voiced concerns about the slow turnaround on coronavirus tests and the Nationals not receiving some kinds of personal protective equipment.

“We cannot have our players and staff work at risk,” Rizzo said. “We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families. Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp.”

Rizzo added that Major League Baseball “needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab” or the season is at risk.

Two Nationals players who took part in in-take testing last week tested positive. Manager Dave Martinez said Sunday those tests happened in the middle of last week and the players who tested positive had not reported to Nationals Park.

Martinez said some of the 60 players tested were still awaiting results.

“Obviously, this is all new for everybody,” Martinez said. “We’ve hit some bumpy roads. But they’re doing the best they can. I know they are. They’re working on cleaning everything up. We’re in a very, very different situation. No one’s ever done this before. So I know they’re working out all the bugs.”

Doolittle, who is still on the fence about playing this season, said Sunday he still hadn’t gotten his Friday test results back.

“That’s one thing that makes me a little nervous,” Doolittle said. ”We’re not getting tests back in time. They still haven’t sent us the PPE. We’re supposed to have N-95 masks, stuff like that, gowns, gloves. We’re supposed to have that stuff, we don’t have that stuff. Those are the things it’s going to take for people to stay safe enough for us to continue this season.”

The Nationals have so far had three players opt out of playing this season: first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, pitcher Joe Ross and catcher Welington Castillo.

In Oakland, two projected members of the Athletics’ starting rotation, Mike Fiers and Jesus Luzardo, missed their second consecutive workout Sunday because of what manager Bob Melvin called a “pending” issue without elaborating.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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