WASHINGTON — In case anyone thought, or at least hoped, the new baseball season would go off without a coronavirus-related hitch, there was bad news on opening day:

The Washington Nationals’ game against the New York Mets was postponed Thursday after at least three of the 2019 World Series champions’ players tested positive for COVID-19.

“We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and people need to still take this seriously. Unfortunately, it hit us, and we’ve got to take care of our own now,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said. “All I can say is: Be safe, continue to wear your masks like they ask and know that this still can happen to anyone. It’s tough for us right now, but we’re going to get through it.”

General Manager Mike Rizzo said Washington also has a fourth player considered a “likely positive.” He did not identify any of the players involved.

“For the most part, the whole team has been – we put them – in lockdown and they’re self-quarantining,” Rizzo said.

He said it was not yet known when the game will be made up, other than that it would not be played Friday, originally set up as a day off to allow for a makeup contest if there were an issue with Game 1, such as a rainout.


Rizzo said one of the players who tested positive had a fever, while the others were not displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Contact tracing was continuing to see who else might have been exposed.

The teams are supposed to play Saturday and Sunday in Washington.

“To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise. We’ve been in situations like this since last year,” Mets Manager Luis Rojas said. “The health is the No. 1 thing still in the world. We’re taking care of ourselves. Everyone’s taking their mask everywhere. We’re doing everything we need to do.”

The news rippled across baseball as the 2021 season began.

“We have to tend to business and not let up,” Atlanta Braves Manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just a reminder that this thing is still out there and real.”

Getting going during this portion of the calendar, and with plans to play a full 162-game slate, is quite a contrast from 2020, when spring training was halted in March as the COVID-19 outbreak gripped the world. The sport eventually staged a truncated, 60-game regular season that began in July with no spectators in stadiums and fake crowd noise coursing through speakers.


Now, with vaccines being widely distributed, fans are allowed back in varying numbers – including a full house for the Texas Rangers, which President Joe Biden told ESPN was a mistake – and a sense of normalcy seemed to be returning to the national pastime.

“A lot of things are opening up, you know, in the country and things like that. I think we’re all going to feel a lot better once we’ve had the multiple shots and the vaccinations, both rounds of that,” said Miami Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, who received an injection Thursday.

“But for a team, it’s really, really dangerous. … Your club losing multiple guys at one time, that’s really what can set you back to start your season. It messes with the roster, all kinds of things that you do,” he said. “So it is a little tricky area right now that we’re in, everybody leaving their camps and their bubbles and getting out. More travel. More access to other things.”

Rizzo said he was not sure how his team’s outbreak began. His team did not report any positive tests during six weeks of camp in Florida.

“I’ve got the utmost confidence that it was not a player breaking protocol,” he said.

The team flight from Florida to Washington at the close of spring training on Monday created close contact among players and staff.


The Nationals – who finished tied for last in the NL East in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season – were supposed to send Max Scherzer to the mound to face New York’s Jacob deGrom in a matchup between pitchers who own a total of five Cy Young Awards.

Scherzer said he was not on that team flight and traveled separately with his family.

“It’s a shame that we can’t play today, but we need to stay positive. I’ve talked to a lot of players and my concern is about their health and safety,” Washington’s Martinez said. “This isn’t the first time we’ve been through some bumpy roads. We’ve been there and we’re going to come back from this and we’re going to play baseball.”

ROCKIES 8, DODGERS 5: Cody Bellinger had a homer negated by a baserunning mistake, and Colorado played plenty of small ball to beat the defending World Series champions in Denver.

The Rockies scored on a squeeze play, two wild pitches, a groundout, an error and three RBI singles.

Bellinger lined what appeared to be a two-run homer to left-center in the third inning. The ball hit off the glove of outfielder Raimel Tapia and bounded over the fence. Justin Turner was on first base, and believing the ball was caught, retreated back to the bag. Bellinger passed Turner in the confusion and the umpires ruled Bellinger out.


Officially, Bellinger was credited with a single and an RBI.

PIRATES 5, CUBS 3: Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a two-run homer and Pittsburgh’s relievers dominated in a two-hitter, helping the Pirates win at Chicago.

The game-time temperature at Wrigley Field was 36 degrees, and the flags at the iconic ballpark rippled in the breeze for much of the sunny afternoon. A crowd of 10,343 dressed in winter jackets, hooded sweatshirts and hats for the return of fans to Wrigley after they were kept out last summer because of the pandemic.

PHILLIES 3, BRAVES 2: Jean Segura hit an RBI single with two outs in the 10th inning to lift Philadelphia to a win at home.

In the top of the 10th, center fielder Roman Quinn made a perfect throw to the plate to retire Ozzie Albies, who was trying to score on Marcell Ozuna’s fly ball.

Phillies ace Aaron Nola was one strike away from tossing seven scoreless innings before pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval ripped an 0-2 pitch into the second deck in right field to tie it at 2.


PADRES 8, DIAMONDBACKS 7: Eric Hosmer had a homer among his three hits and drove in three runs, newcomer Victor Caratini also had three RBI and the San Diego beat visiting Arizona despite giving up four home runs in the fifth inning to blow a five-run lead.

Arizona’s Ketel Marte had four hits, including one of his team’s home runs in a six-run fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera, pinch-hitter Tim Locastro and Stephen Vogt also homered in the inning.

CARDINALS 11, REDS 6: Paul Goldschmidt and newcomer Nolan Arenado combined for six hits in a boosted St. Louis lineup, and the Cardinals roughed up Luis Castillo for six runs in the first inning at Cincinnati.


TIGERS 3, INDIANS 2: Miguel Cabrera homered through the snow in his first at-bat of the season, then added a sparkling play at first base to lift Detroit to a victory at home.

The temperature at game time was 32 degrees, and the snow was starting to pick up a bit when Cabrera connected for his 488th career homer.


Reigning Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber allowed two runs and ended up with 12 strikeouts in six innings. Tigers starter Matthew Boyd allowed three hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

Roberto Perez hit a two-run homer off Gregory Soto in the ninth, but Soto held on for the save. AJ Hinch won his first game as manager of the Tigers. The former Houston skipper missed last season while suspended in the aftermath of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.

BLUE JAYS 3, YANKEES 2: Randal Grichuk led off the 10th with an RBI double, and Toronto took advantage of the second year of starting extra innings with a runner on second to win at New York.

Fans returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since 2019. Capacity was limited to 20% because of coronavirus protocols, and the attendance was announced as 10,850.

Jordan Romano escaped trouble in the bottom of the ninth with the help of third baseman Cavan Biggio, who threw out pinch-runner Michael Tauchman at the plate as he tried to score on a grounder by DJ LeMahieu.

Nick Nelson (0-1) relieved to begin the 10th, and with pinch-runner Jonathan Davis on second, Grichuk lined Nelson’s second pitch over Aaron Judge in right.


Julian Merryweather struck out Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres on 11 pitches for the save.

Teoscar Hernandez hit a tying homer in the sixth off Gerrit Cole as Toronto improved to 23-22 in openers.

ROYALS 14, RANGERS 10: Michael A. Taylor homered, drove in three runs and threw out two players at the plate from center field, leading Kansas City past visiting Texas.


RAYS 1, MARLINS 0: Austin Meadows’ home run with two outs in the eighth inning was all Tampa Bay needed, and the reigning AL champions started their season with a win at Miami.

Meadows – who hit 33 homers for the Rays two years ago, then only four in 36 games last season – connected off Miami reliever Yimi Garcia on a drive that cleared the 387-foot sign in left-center with ease.

BREWERS 6, TWINS 5: Lorenzo Cain scored in the 10th after Travis Shaw’s two-run double capped a ninth-inning comeback, and Milwaukee won at home.

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