WASHINGTON — The entire season-opening three-game series between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets was called off on Friday because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the 2019 World Series champions, who had four players test positive for COVID-19.

The Nationals announced the postponement of games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Nationals Park, saying the decision was “due to continued follow-up testing and contact tracing involving members of the Nationals organization.”

The Opening Day game in Washington on Thursday night already had been put off, just hours before it was supposed to begin with Max Scherzer pitching for the Nationals against Jacob deGrom of the Mets in a matchup between the recipients of a combined five Cy Young Awards.

Four Nationals players have tested positive since Monday, General Manager Mike Rizzo said. He added that there are five other players and one staff member who are under quarantine after contact tracing determined they could have been exposed, too.

Rizzo has not identified any of the players involved – and said he will not.

Major League Baseball and the players’ union issued a testing update Friday, saying there were four new positive tests – three players and one staff member – from the 14,354 tests administered over the past week across all of the sport, a 0.03% rate.

One of Washington’s players had a fever, according to Rizzo, who said the others are not showing symptoms.

Washington’s next scheduled game would be at home on Monday against the Atlanta Braves, and Rizzo said he expects Scherzer to start.

“We are planning to play Monday,” Rizzo said. “That’s our plan. This is a day-by-day thing.”

INDIANS: Cleveland will use a pinch-drummer for its home opener. With long-time drummer and ballpark fixture John Adams recovering from heart surgery and unable to attend his first opener in Cleveland in 48 years, Black Keys drummer and lifelong Indians fan Patrick Carney will fill in and pound away from the left-field bleachers at Progressive Field during Monday’s game against Detroit.

“When I found out that John Adams wouldn’t be able to make Opening Day in Cleveland for the first time in almost 50 years, I reached out to the team,” Carney said. “I share John’s love of baseball and the Cleveland Indians franchise, and drumming for him during the home opener when he can’t physically be there feels like a meaningful way to show John the love and respect he deserves. I want to be there for John.”

The Indians said Adams, who first started banging away on his drum in 1973, will bestow drumming duties and his bleacher seat for the day to Carney during an in-game video presentation.

MLB: More than 28% of Major League Baseball players were born outside the 50 states. That represents a drop for the fourth straight season, although this decrease was particularly small.

MLB said there were 256 such players of the 906 on Opening Day rosters, injured lists, the restricted list and the paternity list. The Dominican Republic led with 98 players, down from 110 last year, with the expanded roster. Venezuela was next with 64 players, followed by Cuba with 19.

Houston led with 15 players born outside the 50 states, followed by Minnesota and San Diego (14 each) and Miami (13).

The percentage was 28.3, down from 28.4% last year, when the active limit expanded from 25 to 30 during the pandemic before resetting at the new normal of 26 this year. The percentage was a record 29.8 in 2017, then dropped to 29% in 2018 and 29.5% in 2019.


RAYS 6, MARLINS 4: Joey Wendle hit a three-run homer, highlighting a four-run rally in the ninth inning that sent the Tampa to a win at Miami.

Wendle’s one-out shot off closer Anthony Bass landed in the upper deck in right field and erased a 4-2 deficit. Manuel Margot then tripled and scored on Francisco Mejia’s sacrifice fly.

Margot also homered and Austin Meadows went deep for the second consecutive game, helping Tampa Bay win its seventh straight in Miami dating to 2019.

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