The Washington Nationals are scheduled to host the New York Yankees in the MLB season opener on July 23, but a new report casts doubt on whether the game will be played at Nationals Park.
According to Jesse Dougherty and Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post, the Nationals are actively exploring alternative sites in case the season opener or other regular season games need to be relocated. The report cites Washington D.C.’s strict quarantine laws and coronavirus protocols as cause for the team’s concern.
The main reason for the uncertainty is that players, coaches and staff have to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed to the novel coronavirus, per the city’s health protocols. D.C. is unwilling to bend that requirement for the Nationals, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, and the team is now wary of its ability to compete under those guidelines.
Nationals not alone
According to the report, the Nationals are one of two MLB teams facing municipal quarantine rules that could present logistical challenges during the season.
The other team? Washington’s opponent in last season’s NLDS, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It is not yet known if the Dodgers are searching for alternate sites. They are scheduled to host the San Francisco Giants on opening night.
It’s also worth noting that while MLB’s operations manual does not mandate a 14-day quarantine period, government protocols take precedence. That is why the league would honor D.C.’s mandated 14-day quarantine period. It’s also noted that MLB is working closely with the Nationals and Dodgers to help resolve any potential issues.
What are the Nationals’ alternatives?
The Washington Post report says two alternate sites are currently under consideration.
Preferably, the Nationals would like any relocated home games to be played at their Class A affiliate’s stadium in nearby Fredericksburg, Virginia. The other option on the table is their spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The report makes Florida sound like a distant second option that might only be seriously considered in a case of desperation. Considering how 2020 has played out, it’s good to have as many options available as possible, even if they aren’t ideal.
In the meantime, the Nationals will continue holding workouts at Nationals Park until a final decision is made.
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