By Neal Berman
The Nats are finally going to play in 2021, hosting Atlanta after their three-game series against the New York Mets was postponed by a coronavirus outbreak.
The Nats still have 11 players sidelined — four of whom tested positive for COVID-19. The Nationals haven’t announced who is in isolation because of test results or which additional seven players are under quarantine because contact tracing determined they could have been exposed to the illness.
Asked whether it’s possible his Game 1 lineup for 2021 could feature as many as five starting position players that weren’t expected to be there on opening day, manager Dave Martinez replied: “It is possible. We’re going to make it work.”
Washington’s active players practiced yesterday— a group that included Game 1 starter Max Scherzer, outfielders Juan Soto and Victor Robles, and third baseman Starlin Castro. Among the key folks not present on the field while the media was allowed in the press box: shortstop Trea Turner, first baseman Josh Bell, second baseman Josh Harrison and catchers Yan Gomes and Alex Avila.
“Very rarely — probably never — have you played with the same team on the field the entire season. We kind of look at it like that,” said Ryan Zimmerman, the only first baseman to take part in drills Monday. “We have confidence in our whole roster. We have some guys that are going to step up and play well.”
Drew Smyly is set to start for the Braves, who were swept in three games by the Phillies to open 2021.