Yankees’ Aaron Boone Says MLB Players Facing ‘Unavoidable Risk’ Amid Pandemic

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is interviewed before a spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The New York Yankees are scheduled to start the 2020 Major League Baseball season Thursday against the Washington Nationals, and manager Aaron Boone isn’t worried about his team taking the field even though one of his opponent’s star players tested positive for COVID-19. 

Boone said there is “no hesitation” in playing Thursday’s game, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, adding that players knew they were signing up for some element of “unavoidable risk” this year.

His comments come after Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Juan Soto tested positive and is asymptomatic.

Boone did make sure his team took some precautions, telling the Yankees not to interact with the Nationals prior to the game, per David Lennon of Newsday.

MLB’s protocol necessitates that Soto have two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart before he rejoins the team.

As for Boone’s counterpart, Nationals manager Dave Martinez was asked how he feels about the testing procedures and said, per Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports, “I’m a little bit more concerned now until we get our next round of tests results and they come back negative.”

Soto, just 21 years old, is already one of the Nationals’ on-field leaders. He slashed .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs and 110 RBI last year for the eventual champions and was expected to anchor their lineup again in the shortened 2020 campaign.

It didn’t matter to Martinez that it was a star player over anyone else, though.

“I woke up this morning excited we were going to have baseball again,” Martinez said, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. “It is Opening Day. And then I get the news he tested positive. It hurts. It didn’t have to be Juan Soto. … And then reality sets in: We’re in the midst of a pandemic.”

The Nationals’ first three games of the season are scheduled against the Yankees, with the second and third matchups to be played Saturday and Sunday.