It turns out there will be some professional baseball in Fredericksburg in 2020 after all—but it won’t be open to the public.
The Washington Nationals announced Monday that some of their taxi squad players will train at the Fredericksburg Nationals’ new ballpark in preparation for the coronavirus-delayed 2020 season, which is scheduled to open later this month.
Local workouts are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, assuming the club receives the results of COVID-19 tests administered to team personnel last Friday. The defending World Series champions canceled Monday’s scheduled workouts at Nationals Park because they had not received the test results. The Houston Astros did likewise.
“We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a team-released statement Monday. “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.”
A team spokesman said that as of Monday afternoon, the Nationals had not decided which players will train in Fredericksburg. That list is unlikely to include any of the team’s star players.
Teams are allowed up to 60 players in their summer camps, which present logistical issues in one ballpark. Major League Baseball protocol bars the public from attending workouts.
Veteran Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, pitcher Joe Ross and catcher Wellington Castillo announced last week that they will not participate in the 2020 season owing to concerns about the coronavirus. On Monday, Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price joined a growing list of players opting out of playing this season.
Minor League Baseball officially canceled its 2020 season last week, meaning that the Fredericksburg Nationals will have to wait until 2021 to make their debut. The Class-A Carolina League team relocated south from Woodbridge after the 2019 season, and construction continues on the franchise’s new ballpark in Central Park South.
“While we are disappointed that no minor league games will be played in our ballpark this season, we are very excited to host the Nationals’ additional players to break in our facility,” Fredericksburg Nationals Chairman Art Silber said in a statement. “There is tremendous pride and excitement in Fredericksburg about the opening of our new ballpark, our relationship with the World Champion Nationals, and now serving as a venue for the Nationals to train in Fredericksburg.”
The 60-game schedule announced Monday has the Nationals opening the season at home July 23 against the New York Yankees in the first game of a three-game series.
Steve DeShazo: 374-5443
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