Washington Nationals’ 21 year old Juan Soto tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, Thursday July 23rd, causing him to miss today’s opening day. As a result he will also have to miss the first few weeks of baseball season. While sad, fans are experiencing mixed reactions when it comes to MLB during the coronavirus pandemic.
Soto’s positive test results were announced over a zoom call by Nats’ general manager, Mike Rizzo, Thursday afternoon, hours before their opening game against the New York Yankees. The COVID test was administered Tuesday July 21st as part of the MLB mandated every other day testing. This testing has been implemented this season in light of the virus to keep players and team staff as safe as possible. Soto, who is asymptomatic currently, took multiple instant-result coronavirus tests on Thursday following the news of the positive results. They all came back negative. The D.C. team is still taking precaution, issuing Soto to isolate until he tests negative twice in back to back tests, performed 24 hours apart.
Although the team officials seem uneasy, they are trying to continue with baseball as usual. Team manager Dave Martinez told the Washington Post, “It stinks, but we are in a pandemic. We are trying to play through it,” Martinez added. “Like I tell the guys, you just have to be very, very careful. That’s all.”
With choosing to play the season, MLB is being forced to deal with the questionable reliability of instant testing. In addition to having players and staff tested every other day for COVID-19, a separate COVID-19-related Injured List has been made for this season. Different from the regular injured list, there is no minimum or maximum stay. MLB rules dictate that a sick player must test negative twice, back to back, at least 24 hours apart, in order to be eligible to play.
MLB is still set to play a 60-game 2020 season, starting July 24th and ending September 27th.
Despite this devastating news for the Washington Nationals, fans are torn on how to react to Soto’s positive test results and baseball season in general this year.
Many fans are sad to hear the news about Soto, praying for him and wishing him well. The young player is being flooded with condolence messages from fans on social media. He has since limited comments on his Instagram account.
Some fans raise concern that Soto’s positive test result is being blown out of proportion in the media.
Reporter trying to be dramatic: “Juan Soto isn’t the only nationals player to test positive for corona!!! 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱”
*reality: “none of these players played last night or this week they tested positive a week ago”
2020 journalism in the time of borona
— Robert (@JRAMNOTTHAGOAT) July 24, 2020
Other fans, while they wish the player well, are skeptical about the safety and weirdness of baseball returning to normalcy. The Nationals’ stadium played fake crowd noises to make up for the fact that the stadium was empty due to the pandemic.
Anyway, I hope ⚾ makes it through 2020 relatively unscathed (best to Juan Soto), but I’m gonna have to sit this year out.
When it’s safe to do so, and fans can return to the stands, with the real sounds that follow (both good & bad), I look forward to returning.
— 89 days 🗳️ (@BrianFeldman) July 24, 2020
#ICYMI: @dougherty_jesse joined @sportstalkmatt on @PushingTheOdds to give us the latest on Juan Soto and just how weird the season already is for the reigning champions #Nationals.https://t.co/YTfbjqesLU pic.twitter.com/z2J3OpYpfd
— SportsMap Radio (@SportsMapRadio) July 24, 2020
Ultimately it seems like everyone is in agreement that much like the rest of 2020, MLB will be very different this year, and we are in for a surreal season.