Here's what we know: Juan Soto has tested negative twice in a row and 24 hours apart via Major League Baseball coronavirus tests conducted at their lab. That's a significant step toward returning because it means MLB has cleared him. But, it's also a layer in the process, not the whole process.
Next, he needs to be cleared by CDC and Washington, D.C., protocols before he can rejoin the Nationals. Those steps are pending as of Wednesday morning.
Also Wednesday, Mike Rizzo said on The Junkies he expects Soto back by the New York Mets series which begins Aug. 4.
"I don't see any reason why he wouldn't be," Rizzo said. "He's champing at the bit, frustrated he can't be with his teammates and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the lineup. That's for darn sure.
"He passed two consecutive tests. 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. We're in that process right now."
This makes sense because there are only two games between Rizzo's radio appearance and when the two-game series against the Mets begins next week. If he's back on the field Friday, that qualifies as "by the Mets series" as does a Monday or even Tuesday return next week.
The Nationals are the "road" team Wednesday and Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays despite playing in Nationals Park. Their weekend series with the Miami Marlins has been postponed. They are unsure if it will be made up later in the season, but are hopeful. It's among the wrinkles to come for MLB.
In the interim, Soto is going through the process to return. He does not need to quarantine for the full two weeks because the Nationals were granted an exception in their waiver with the city which allows formerly positive employees to return to work in less than 14 days if they clear all protocols. However, when not at the park, they are required to return directly home for a 14-day period.
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Mike Rizzo expects Juan Soto back by Mets series next week originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington