Hours before the Nationals take the field to open the 2020 season Juan Soto was reported to have tested positive for COVID-19 following a test he took on Wednesday.
Confirming @JeffPassan's report that Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19. Told by a source that Soto "is OK." He already spent the first 2 weeks of camp in mandatory quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) July 23, 2020
Soto, who has asserted himself as one of the Nats’ best players, will in fact be absent as the Nationals take on the Yankees opening night. He will be replaced at left field by Andrew Stevenson according to manager Davey Martinez.
Blessing your timeline with this euphoric moment that changed it all—Juan Soto’s Wild Card game-winning hit ahead of 2020 OPENING DAY!!!!!
— Caroline Brandt (@caroline__cb) July 23, 2020
As a result, the Nationals will be without their star left fielder indefinitely; coronavirus protocol dictates that it will take two negative tests for Juan Soto to return to action.
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo has told ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Soto was asymptomatic, and that after administering the contact tracing it was deemed that no one else on the team will be ineligible for opening night.
More tests were conducted today, the results of which will be highly anticipated after Soto’s positive test. Manager Davey Martinez told Jeff Passan that he hopes to have those tests back Friday night, in time for the second game in the Yankees series.
Juan Soto has blazed a trail as one of the premier young talents in baseball, hitting 34 homers in 2019, 5 of which came during the Nationals’ playoff run. After losing Anthony Rendon in the postseason, the Nationals were hoping to lean on Soto for run production in 2020. They will have to do without his talent for at least a couple weeks. As it pertains to a 60 game season, a couple of weeks now has much more significance.