CHICAGO — For the second time this season, and the second time in seven weeks, the Washington Nationals are dealing with a positive coronavirus test and trying to contain the spread. But while April’s outbreak reached 11 players and two staff members, this situation is already different: Erick Fedde, the player who tested positive, was vaccinated with a Johnson & Johnson shot earlier this season. And the team has determined that Tanner Rainey, who has not been vaccinated, was the only player who had to quarantine after Fedde’s positive result turned up Wednesday morning.

Both pitchers were inactive — and on the coronavirus-related injured list — when the Nationals beat the Cubs, 4-3, at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. Yet Max Scherzer believes that, because Fedde is vaccinated and asymptomatic, he shouldn’t have to go on the IL. Scherzer confirmed that Fedde was the positive case in his postgame video conference call with reporters Wednesday. Then the 36-year-old starter stated his opinion.

“We got to update the rules here. We got to start following the science, listening to what the CDC says, whether this is union or MLB, the people above us. We got to update the protocols here," Scherzer said. "Vaccinated players are testing positive, they are asymptomatic and should be allowed to play. Plain and simple.”

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wrote on its website: “A growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and potentially less likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others. However, further investigation is ongoing.” Current CDC guidelines state that “fully vaccinated people can refrain from testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic” and also “refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic.”

A person with knowledge of the league’s thinking indicated it was following a CDC guideline that states, “Fully vaccinated people should not visit private or public settings if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the prior 10 days or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.” There is a gray area, but MLB and the MLBPA’s joint committee can clear a vaccinated, asymptomatic individual who has received back-to-back negative test results.

Scherzer just feels there should be a quicker way for an infected, vaccinated player to return to action (in line with CDC recommendations). He is on the executive board of the players’ union. He’s also the Nationals’ union rep. When asked how he would like an infected, vaccinated player to get cleared, he deferred to higher-up decision-makers.

“I have reached out to a couple other players across the league, I value their opinion, and we’re all on the same page,” Scherzer said. “Other guys in our clubhouse are thinking the same way, so that’s probably the way we’re thinking across the league. Probably a good amount of players want that to have that be the case. There’s a benefit to taking the vaccine, we got to believe in the science, in that if you’re asymptomatic and you’re vaccinated, then you can play baseball. Last year showed us that even in an unvaccinated scenario, there weren’t spreads playing baseball.”

Fedde’s sample was collected Monday. The Nationals are being tested every other day because they have not reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold, which allows for relaxed protocols. MLB recently announced that 12 of its 30 teams have reached that point.

Most of the Nationals’ traveling party, however, were vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson shots at their team hotel in St. Louis on April 12. In the time since, Martinez has hinted that players who declined the vaccine were reconsidering. Their first outbreak included four infected players and nine others forced to quarantine as close contacts. Fedde’s positive test came just a week after the New York Yankees had eight positive tests among players, coaches and staff. And like Fedde, all eight people had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Medical experts said that, with all but one among the Yankees positives asymptomatic, the outbreak showed that the vaccine was working. The CDC has said that while "breakthrough cases” will happen, the vaccines are intended to lower the likelihood of infections and greatly lower the chance of hospitalizations and severe outcomes.

Rainey will have to quarantine for at least 10 days because he is not vaccinated, according to Manager Dave Martinez and the league’s covid protocols. Does Scherzer see a situation like this convincing unvaccinated players to change their mind?

“The vaccinated players should reap the benefits for doing this,” he answered. “This is what we want. We want our players to be vaccinated."

“The most important thing that we need to know is that these vaccinations are to help you not get as sick — or sick,” Martinez said Wednesday, before it was publicly known that Fedde was infected. “This player feels fine, and for me that’s good news. We got to follow MLB protocols, and hopefully he goes through these protocols and is fully healthy and ready to go.”