A major league season like no other could fittingly begin this way: Gerrit Cole versus Max Scherzer — in Fredericksburg. Va.
That is assuming it begins.
The Post confirmed that the Nationals are looking at alternate sites to their Nationals Park home. The organization is concerned about Washington protocols that would impose a 14-day quarantine on anybody who is exposed to COVID-19. Thus, if a player were exposed, he would be lost for at least two weeks, creating a competitive disadvantage the Nationals would want to avoid.
The Washington Post initially reported the Nationals’ considerations.
The regular-season opener for all of the majors is next Thursday with the defending champs hosting the Yankees. But where are they going to play host?
Nothing was decided as the final weekend before the regular season neared, but the Nationals were mulling either their Single-A Fredericksburg stadium or their spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Washington Post described the spring site as less likely. That would make sense considering the soaring COVID-19 numbers in Florida.
The uncertainty fits into a season that no one can yet guarantee will start on time, much less be played to its 60-game and postseason conclusions.
What the league wants and what the virus will allow are going to be constantly at issue. MLB had hoped that its first step this year was to have the defending champs play the sport’s most popular team in the nation’s capital with Cole making his anticipated Yankee debut versus the indomitable Scherzer.
Now, the locale may have to change to the home of the Fredericksburg Nationals of the Carolina League.
This is going to be a reality of the 2020 season — under the best of circumstances. The teams skilled at improvising and adaptation and not easily thrown off by disruption are going to have an advantage.
The Nationals already are challenged. They had three players — first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, backup catcher Welington Castillo and No. 5 starter Joe Ross — decide not to play this year, and three lineup mainstays — Howie Kendrick, Victor Robles and Washington’s best hitter, Juan Soto — had yet to attend camp with the Nats providing no reason to reporters. A club can only announce whether a player is absent for reasons associated with coronavirus with the player’s permission.
This is all part of a season like no other, a season that will cause wonder each day whether it can go on. How apt that with less than a week to go there was uncertainty where the first game of this season was even going to be played.