The Washington Nationals chose to cancel Monday team workouts this week because they were still waiting on results of a recent round of COVID-19 testing. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo released a statement Monday morning, saying that the team still did not have results from tests conducted on Friday.
"We cannot have our players and staff work at risk. Therefore, we have cancelled our team workout scheduled for this morning," 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."
The Nationals are not the only team dealing with delayed testing results and an altered workout schedule. Here are a handful of other teams who have been impacted by delays in MLB's testing process:
- The Astros canceled a Monday workout due to a lack of test results.
- The A's dealt with delays over the weekend and GM David Forst sent a message to employees ripping MLB and the company that is running the testing.
- Ken Rosenthal tweets that, according to sources, testers did not show up over the weekend to administer tests to Angels players and staff. Instead, they self-administered saliva tests.
- On Tuesday, the Giants suspended workouts at Oracle Park because results from this past weekend's tests were not available, the team announced.
- The Cubs had to push back their Tuesday workout because they're still awaiting results, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago.
- Phillies GM Matt Klentak told reporters, including The Athletic's Matt Gelb, that outfielder Adam Haseley had not been in summer camp because the club never received his intake results. They were sent in as required, but no results arrived. Haseley arrived in camp Tuesday.
MLB recently released the results of the first round of testing, and encouragingly just 1.2 percent of tests came back positive. However, it now appears that results from multiple teams were not included in that batch.
On Monday, MLB issued a statement in response to the testing difficulties:
"As of today, more than 95% of the tests under the Intake Screening period have been conducted, analyzed and shared with all 30 Clubs. All of the individuals among the 95% have now moved on to the phase that will test them every other day. The remaining number of outstanding tests are expected to be completed today.
"Our plan required extensive delivery and shipping services, including proactive special accommodations to account for the holiday weekend. The vast majority of those deliveries occurred without incident and allowed the protocols to function as planned. Unfortunately, several situations included unforeseen delays. We have addressed the delays caused by the holiday weekend and do not expect a recurrence. We commend the affected Clubs that responded properly by cancelling workouts.
"We appreciate the great cooperation from the players as well as the hard work of the Clubs and many internal and external staff members under these challenging circumstances. The process has not been without some unforeseen difficulties, which are being addressed with the service providers that are essential to the execution of the protocols. It is important to be mindful that nearly all of the individuals have been tested as planned. The health and safety of our players and employees will remain our highest priorities."
Regarding the lab used for running the tests, MLB added:
"The Utah laboratory is conducting a level of analysis and turnaround time that is unprecedented in COVID testing, including providing an extra layer of confirmation for all positive test results to rule out false positive concerns. The laboratory is operating on a seven-day-a-week schedule from July 5th through the end of the World Series."
Needless to say, prompt and accurate test results are vital to the viability of a 2020 MLB season. Processing this many tests in short order is a massive logistical challenge, especially in these initial rounds.
Former Marlins president David Samson spoke about MLB's testing delays on the latest episode of Nothing Personal with David Samson. You can listen below:
MLB must get this process tightened up in a hurry if a late July Opening Day is going to proceed as planned. Veteran reliever Andrew Miller may have been referencing these developing uncertainties when he recently expressed doubts that the 2020 season will wind up happening.