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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo defends decision to cancel Monday’s workout

The Washington Nationals canceled workouts Monday over issues with coronavirus testing protocols, and general manager Mike Rizzo defended the decision on Tuesday.

The Nationals were one of three MLB teams — joining the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals — who elected to cancel Monday workouts due to delays in obtaining results of COVID-19 tests. On Tuesday, Rizzo passionately laid out why he felt he had no choice but to do so.

“We’re going to see the results in a timely fashion,” Rizzo said Tuesday, per NBC Sports Washington. “That’s all we need. That’s what we have to have to ensure our players are protected. I’m the caretaker for these guys. These are my guys. Their families are my family. The staff is my staff. I couldn’t live with myself if we went on haphazardly and didn’t abide by the rules that are in their best interest.

“We’re confident that after some early hiccups that the procedure is going to work smoother, get a little rhythm going and hopefully that we can turn around these tests then make prudent decisions about player health in our inner circle. But having the information makes that possible.”

Rizzo is believed to have ran afoul of the league office over the decision to cancel Monday’s workout, especially due to his subsequent comments critical of MLB testing procedures. Commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly “jumped on” Rizzo, according to The Washington Post, over the perception that the Nationals GM was being insubordinate.

“Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp,” Rizzo said in the comments that presumably drew purported Manfred’s ire. “Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”

Rizzo’s decision to come out swinging to defend canceling Monday’s workout makes sense in light of the supposed blowback he received from the league office. That being said, the fact he tempered his comments somewhat by expressing confidence in the league’s ability to smooth out these early testing issues could restore him back in MLB’s good graces.