The defending World Series champion Washington Nationals had to cancel Monday's workout due to a delay in receiving COVID-19 test results. General manager Mike Rizzo responded by voicing his displeasure. He blasted MLB and the time it takes to receive results after testing players on the roster.
"Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp. Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk," Rizzo said, per Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic. The Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals also canceled their Monday workouts due to similar reasons.
Following Rizzo's comments, he reportedly received flak from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. Sources told Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post that the commissioner "jumped on him" for the criticism. This outburst followed three players — Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and catcher Welington Castillo — opting out of the shortened 60-game season due to coronavirus concerns. Another player, Sean Doolittle, has also expressed concern about the delay in testing results.
MLB released a statement following the holiday weekend and said that 95 percent of its intake testing had been completed. Additionally, the league said that the Utah lab had reported 98 percent of the results and that a majority were within one day. The league said that it does not expect the testing delays to continue and commended the teams that ultimately canceled workouts. However, some players and organizations are still expressing frustration.
''We got camps being shut down and people going three and four days without tests. You just don't know what's going on,'' Los Angeles Dodgers player Mookie Betts said. ''And I know it's hard. I'm not blaming or saying this, that and the other. It's hard. But somebody's got to do it. And we have to just figure out the right way to do it.''
Amid the ongoing delays, multiple players have either opted out of the season or have tested positive for the coronavirus. Texas Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo had two positive tests and one negative, forcing him to isolate at his Dallas apartment. GM Jon Daniels said that the slugger is asymptomatic.
Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun also tested positive but is asymptomatic. Meanwhile, Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price, Colorado Rockies infielder Ian Desmond, Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez all opted out of the season. Doolittle, who has taken two tests without receiving any results, is still undecided about playing this season.