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Nationals' Soto to miss season opener after positive COVID-19 test

(Reuters) - Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the World Series champions’ season opener against the New York Yankees later on Thursday, the team said.

The 21-year-old slugger was asymptomatic and none of his team mates have been ruled ineligible for the game following contact tracing, general manager Mike Rizzo said, according to ESPN.

“We’ve got to make our plans to play without Juan for an extended period of time,” Rizzo said on a conference call.

Fan favorite Soto was a key part of the Nationals’ championship run last season, smacking 34 home runs and driving in 110 runs during the regular season.

He also hit three home runs in the World Series, where the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in seven games.

The start of the Major League Baseball season has been delayed by nearly four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first pitch will be thrown at 7:08 p.m. local time in Washington without fans in attendance to limit the spread of the virus.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Ed Osmond

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