Mets-Nationals Series Is Postponed by Virus Outbreak

A day after pushing back the Mets’ season-opening game in Washington because of a coronavirus outbreak on the Nationals, Major League Baseball postponed the teams’ three-game weekend series on Friday. The league said it needed more time for follow-up testing and contact tracing after four Nationals players tested positive this week.

The Mets now will play their first game of the season on Monday in Philadelphia, several hours after the Nationals are scheduled to host the Atlanta Braves. Baseball officials are hopeful that the Nationals will be cleared to play by then, as long as their players continue to test negative during the layoff.

If the Nationals do start on Monday, their roster will be significantly compromised. The players who tested positive cannot return until at least 10 days from their positive tests, and those in close contact must miss at least seven days. The Nationals could fill those roster spots with players from their minor-league system.

For M.L.B., last summer’s outbreaks on the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals highlighted the importance of contact tracing to containing the spread of the virus. Players are given wearable devices now to help identify close contacts.

Baseball officials said on Friday that the league had conducted 14,354 tests in the past week, with only four positives — three Nationals players and one staff member who is not with the Nationals — through Thursday. A fourth Washington player tested positive on Friday.

Since the start of spring training, M.L.B. said that it has administered 92,896 tests — counting monitoring and intake testing — and found 38 total positives (28 players and 10 staff members), for a positive rate of .04 percent.

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