No Nationals players have shown symptoms or been tested, according to Rizzo and others with knowledge of the situation.
“We don’t want to give out any hints, and this isn’t going to be a mystery,” Rizzo said when asked whether the employee worked in baseball operations or had been around the team during spring training. “Suffice to say, the person was in West Palm Beach, and it was a non-player, and we’re going to keep it at that.
“The person has been taken care of, going through all the protocols, procedures and quarantined. He’s through with quarantine and on the road to getting better.”
In mid-March, the New York Yankees announced that a minor league player had tested positive for the coronavirus, shortly after Major League Baseball shut down amid the pandemic. A second Yankees minor leaguer tested positive two days later. A Boston Red Sox minor leaguer also tested positive, as well as a Cincinnati Reds employee who was based in Arizona.
Once the Nationals employee tested positive in late March, the club informed players and staff members through an internal website. But Rizzo assured that it did not change the team’s procedure or response to the virus. The Nationals have followed MLB’s guidelines since last month and been in regular contact with everyone in the organization.
“We’ve been checking in on a daily basis with every player and staff member, according to the MLB protocols,” Rizzo said Friday. “Our medical people have been very, very diligent in doing so."
The Nationals’ spring training facility was taken over by the Florida National Guard on March 29, just after they had vacated the grounds and sent players home for the foreseeable future. Palm Beach County has since used the complex’s large, grass parking lot as a coronavirus testing center, and the Nationals had ceased all operations there before the site was up and running.
In the weeks since, there have been many guesses as to when and how baseball will start. There have been leaked plans about a possible season in Arizona, with quarantined players and quarantined coaches and the major leagues walled off from the outside world. Another report suggested a shortened schedule split between Florida and Arizona, with empty spring training parks hosting games.
Rizzo would not comment on those specific ideas Friday, calling them “all hypotheticals at this point.” A team employee in recovery — and the number of cases around the country — only reinforces how difficult it will be to stage a season. The global death toll reached 100,000 on Friday.
But Rizzo believes there will be baseball at some point in 2020. He’s choosing to stay positive about that.
“I don’t think any of the new proposals or ideas have changed my optimism about the season,” Rizzo said. “I’ve been optimistic that we will get some form of a baseball season. I have nothing to base that upon other than my positivity.”