The Nationals canceled Monday’s workout because the club hadn’t received Friday’s intake testing results back, despite MLB promising 24-hour turnaround time. Major League Baseball issued a weak statement on the matter later in the afternoon, attributing the delays to the holiday weekend.
After canceling Monday’s workout, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said, “We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff, and their families. 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.”
Per Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred considered Rizzo’s statement to be insubordination. The anonymous source Svrluga quoted said, “The commissioner jumped on him for that.”
Rizzo isn’t the only member of the Nationals to criticize MLB’s testing implementation. Reliever Sean Doolittle pointed out yesterday that the Nationals haven’t been given the personal protective equipment (e.g. masks, gloves) they were promised. In a short thread on Twitter, Doolittle wrote, “We need help to make this work. Faster test results, PPE for high risk individuals and players/staff with high risk family members. The individual efforts have been great so far but we can’t rely solely on individuals. The efforts have to be structural as well.”
A lot needs to go right in order for there to be a 2020 season. The players need to be diligent about wearing masks, washing their hands, and limiting their socializing. Teams need to push a cohesive directive to follow health guidelines. MLB’s job is to distribute PPE, implement testing, and consistently get results back to teams as promised so there are no interruptions in the players’ ability to prepare for the season. So far, the teams and players have been holding up their end of the bargain but the league hasn’t been holding up theirs.
Earlier, Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and Athletics reliever Jake Diekman also expressed concern. Per The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, Bryant said, “I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would feel comfortable. But honestly I don’t really feel that way, which is why I’m trying to keep my distance from everybody and wear my mask, just so that we can get this thing going.” And per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Diekman said, “I feel like deep down, every player has it in the back of their mind that this is all going to fall apart.”
MLB’s slipshod job to start training camp risks losing the confidence of the players, coaches, and all other staff to effectively carry out the season. It has a little over two weeks to get things right before the start of the regular season.