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MLB champion Nats cancel workout for lack of test results

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Washington (AFP)

The reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals called off practice Monday, having not received results from COVID-19 tests taken Friday, general manager and baseball operations president Mike Rizzo said.

And Rizzo warned that Major League Baseball's attempt to stage a 2020 season was in jeopardy unless test results were available in a more timely fashion.

All Nationals players and staff were tested Friday for coronavirus as part of MLB's protocols as pre-season workouts began ahead of a planned August 23 start of games in home stadiums without spectators.

"Seventy-two hours later, we have yet to receive the results of those tests," Rizzo said. "We cannot have our players and staff work at risk.

"Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning. We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families."

The slow turnaround time on COVID-19 tests risks the safety of players and staff as well as the ability to stage a season, Rizzo said.

"Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp," Rizzo said.

"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."

MLB clubs are set to face only division foes and nearby rivals from the opposite league in a season cut to 60 games per club with playoffs scheduled as usual in October.

The Nationals said Sunday that two of 60 players were positive for COVID-19 and did not show up at the ballpark, but manager Dave Martinez said those results came from tests taken last Wednesday.

Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle said the team had not received COVID-19 safety masks and gloves and stressed in tweets Sunday night the need for faster results.

"We really want this to work. Players have been diligently following protocols (masks, distancing, etc). Our medical staff has been amazing. They're doing everything they can to help (disinfecting, sanitizing, etc)," Doolittle tweeted.

"But 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.

"I don't know who needs to hear this but I brought these things up because I want to play. I want there to be a season. And I want everyone to be as safe as possible.

"The sooner we figure these things out, the better chance we have to resume the 2020 season."

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