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Report: Nationals star Juan Soto will miss MLB Opening Day after testing positive for COVID-19

Juan Soto, Nationals

Washington Nationals star left fielder Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the team’s Opening Day game against the New York Yankees, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. It’s still unclear just how much time Soto will miss, as the Dominican slugger has been immediately taken off the 30-man roster.

Perhaps more importantly, there is a clear feeling of anxiety in the air, considering the test result popped up only hours before the start of Opening Day — putting a major question mark on whether Major League Baseball will proceed with the game.

This positive test could sideline Soto for a significant portion of MLB’s 60-game season. According to the league’s protocol, a player must test negative in consecutive tests at least 24 hours apart, pass a health screening, and get the green light from league doctors and the MLB Players Association.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo appeared to be under the impression that his diagnosis would be handled as an injury:

“I think you have to take a business-as-usual type of approach to it, just like any other injury during the season,” said Rizzo, according to Hannah Kayser of Yahoo Sports.

Soto took the coronavirus test on Tuesday and received the results Thursday morning, though it appears no other Nationals will be unavailable for the opener due to contact tracing ramifications.

The 21-year-old phenom played a key role in the Nationals’ World Series victory last season, batting a stout .282 and launching 34 home runs with 110 RBI on the season.

The young star swatted four homers and plated seven runs during a seven-game series that saw the Nationals win the World Series over the Houston Astros.