Nationals: Juan Soto, Stephen Strasburg updates

Chris Lingebach
July 29, 2020 - 11:12 am

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo doesn't see any reason why Juan Soto couldn't be back in the lineup in time for their series against the Mets. 

That two-game series begins next Tuesday, and will be their next game after completing their current series against the Blue Jays this Thursday, after their weekend series in Miami got wiped out due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

During the general manager's weekly appearance with The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan, which is presented exclusively by Burke & Herbert Bank, Rizzo was asked whether he expects Soto back in time for the Mets series.

"I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be," Rizzo replied. "He's chomping at the bit and frustrated that he can't be with his teammates, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the lineup, that's for darned sure."

What we know about MLB's COVID-19 testing policy is that once a player tests positive, in order to be eligible to return, he must:

A) Test negative twice (at least 24 hours apart);

B) Show no symptoms for 72 hours;

C) Receive approval from team doctors.

Once approved, the player must seek reinstatement from a board consisting of members from Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. There is no minimum or maximum time threshold that must be met in order for the player to be reinstated.

It's been six days since Soto's positive test on Opening Day and he's missed five games while waiting to be reinstated. Rizzo confirmed with The Sports Junkies that Soto has passed two consecutive tests and is waiting to be reinstated by the MLB/MLBPA board.

"I thought they announced yesterday he did pass the two consecutive tests," Junkies host Eric Bickel said.

"Yes he did. He did. He passed two consecutive tests," Rizzo confirmed. "The process is you pass the two tests, you go to the board from MLB and the Players Association and they reinstate you to play, so we're in that process right now."

UPDATE (2:30 P.M.)

MLB has cleared Juan Soto to play, Dave Martinez says, but he's yet to receive clearance from the D.C. Department of Health, which may not come until Saturday.

Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his first scheduled start of the 2020 season Saturday against the Yankees due to a nerve issue in his throwing hand. Earlier this week, Dave Martinez relayed that Strasburg, several days after the injury surfaced, was feeling less of a tingling sensation in his thumb when throwing.

"Stras felt better yesterday. The numbness is subsiding," Rizzo said. "He's played long toss the last two days, which is a good sign, and he feels pretty comfortable about it, which makes me feel comfortable about it."

"There's no timetable for his return," Rizzo noted. "He doesn't think it'll be too long term, but with these injuries, especially this season with the shortened spring training, we're gonna be very cautious and play it by ear."

Thursday's series finale against Toronto would mark Strasburg's next turn in the rotation.

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