Where In the World is Juan Soto?
The Washington Nationals are off this weekend after the MLB postponed their series against the Miami Marlins after 16 players and 2 coaches tested positive for COVID-19 this week. The Nationals weren’t without their own Coronavirus drama this past week as the team’s 21 year old superstar tested positive for COVID-19 on Opening Day and had to miss the first game of the season. Many assumed Juan Soto would have to quarantine for the next 14 days and would have to wait until he received two negative tests before the team could even consider letting him work out let alone putting him in the starting lineup.
But here is where it gets interesting, Juan Soto tested twice on Opening Day and both of his tests came back negative.
This came as great news for Nationals fans, as this meant the team would be able to get Soto back as he cleared all MLB protocols to return and play, as it seems like he initially received a false positive while having no symptoms and had two negative tests. But as Saturday’s and Sunday’s lineups came in with a noticeable absence of Soto, Nationals fans flooded the team’s Twitter replies asking where the young star was and why he wasn’t playing despite all signs saying he could play and contribute to a Nationals lineup which is in desperate need of the reliable bat and plate discipline of Soto.
As the Yankees series came and went and the Toronto series again seeing no Soto in the lineup, questions turned into demands from the fans as to why the Wild Card hero from last postseason was still absent from play despite checking off every checklist. Then we learned that while Soto was cleared to play by the MLB, he was not cleared to play by the city of Washington, DC.
The nation’s capital has been really on top of COVID regulations, and they aren’t making many exceptions for the World Series champions or their star. The Nationals were considering moving their home games this season to their minor league affiliate in Fredericksburg after the city put a ban of gatherings of over 50 people, which a game with two full team rosters, media and staff would easily exceed. Luckily the city gave the Nationals an exemption and are able to play in their home ball park this season.
The city requires all players, coaches and staff to quarantine for 10 days if they’re exposed to the virus or if they test positive, regardless of negative tests that come after. This would put Soto on track to practice and work out with the team as soon as August 1st and would put his season debut on August 4th as the Nationals open their home series against the New York Mets.
After a 1-4 start, the Nationals were able to build a little bit of momentum beating the Toronto Blue Jays back to back to get their record one game below .500. Unfortunately the Nats weren’t able to ride this momentum as this weekend’s series against the Marlins was canceled. Hopefully the introduction of Juan Soto in the lineup on Tuesday will give the team the burst of energy needed to make a run and build off their wins. The Nationals are always a better team when Soto is in it, and his presence in the lineup is just what the Nats need to bring excitement into the clubhouse and propel them to the top of the NL.