Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer wants Major League Baseball to alter its COVID-19 health and safety protocols in response to new recommendations made by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We gotta update the rules here. We gotta follow the science, start listening to what the CDC says,” Scherzer, the Nationals’ representative for the MLB Players Association, told reporters (including Maria Tores of The Athletic) this week. “Vaccinated players that are testing positive and they’re asymptomatic should be allowed to play. Plain and simple.”
Scherzer’s reference to the CDC is ostensibly aimed at a note on the CDC’s website that reads, in part: “early data show that vaccines help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19, but we are learning more as more people get vaccinated.”
Scherzer’s comments come after the Nationals were forced to play shorthanded following a positive COVID-19 test. Said test resulted in two players being sidelined: the one who tested positive, and another who was deemed a close contact. As Torres noted, the Nationals placed starter Erick Fedde and reliever Tanner Rainey on the injured list without further explanation.
Fedde’s turn in the rotation on Friday will be taken by a returning Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has not pitched since April 13 because of shoulder inflammation. In two starts this season, he’s allowed eight runs in 10 innings. Fedde, for his part, has accumulated a 4.35 ERA and a 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings spread over eight starts.
Albeit a different situation, this is the second time this season the Nationals have dealt with a positive COVID-19 test. The club was forced to open the 2021 season without 11 players due to four positive tests. The other seven players were deemed close contacts following contact tracing.
MLB told teams in spring that it would loosen COVID-19 restrictions — including those pertaining to masks, tests, and social gatherings — for all clubs who reach at least an 85 percent vaccination rate among their “tier 1” individuals (players, coaches, trainers). The Nationals have not yet reached the 85 percent threshold. The league announced that 12 of the 30 teams have reached that point.