The Washington Nationals will be without one of their best players for their Opening Day game against the New York Yankees. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be with the team for their game on Thursday. Nationals reporter Mark Zuckerman confirmed the report and said Soto is "OK." The 21-year old has already been in quarantine during the first two weeks of camp after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo gave an update on Soto and said he's asymptomatic. Rizzo also said that Soto has tested negative multiple times throughout the last few weeks, but he's not cleared to play until he tests negative again. The last time Soto took a test was two days ago, and the team got the result early Thursday morning. He will need to test negative twice over a span of more than 24 hours to be cleared.
"We've got to make our plans to play without Juan for an extended period of time," Rizzo said on a conference call. "We're going to have to learn how to adjust to these things. The team that does the best job of keeping their star players on the field and healthy has a better chance of winning."
Soto was a star for the Nationals during the team's World Series run last year, hitting .277 with five home runs and 14 RBIs during the playoffs. He made his MLB debut on May 20, 2018, at 19 years old. Soto was the first player born in 1998 to play in the major-league game. He also became the youngest player in National's history to hit a home run, kicking a three-run shot in his first Major League start one day after his debut. He finished the season with 22 home runs and 70 RBIs with a .292 batting average.
Things got better for Soto in 2019. Along with helping the team win the World Series, Soto finished the regular season with 34 home runs and 110 RBIs with a .282 batting average. He was named to the All-MLB Second Team but would like to make an All-Star team in the very near future. "It's gonna be a dream if I play in the All-Star Game," Soto told NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Doolin back in February. "Everyone wants to play in the All-Star Game. We gonna keep grinding and if it happens thank God but if not...let's keep grinding to make it."