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Nationals still without 9 players, but are hopeful some can return this weekend

The Nationals battled through the Atlanta Braves series without some serious star power, but some may return this weekend.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The Nationals lineup through their first series with the Braves looked a lot different than expected. 

With two catchers, three infielders, an outfielder, two starting pitchers and a closer all-out due to COVID-19 protocols, other players have needed to step up, and fill some big voids left on the field.

"We feel confident in the team we have. If we go out there and play the game like we are supposed to play, then it doesn't really matter who is out there. We can win games with anyone," Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said

The Nationals were without likely starters, Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Avila, and Yan Gomes for their three-game opening series with the Braves. 

"It's adversity, we dealt with it and we played well because of it. We responded well before in the past, and we knew we had guys that were itching ready to go," Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer said. "They got a shot today to play baseball and they came out and played their tails off."

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The Nats squeaked out a win opening day but came up short in their doubleheader Wednesday. 

They head to Los Angeles Wednesday night for a weekend series with the Dodgers without some star power on the pitching mound too. Starting pitchers, Jon Lester and Patrick Corbin are also out due to COVID-19 protocols and likely closer Brad Hand joins them on the COVID injured list. 

While they won't be making the cross-country flight with the team, there is still a chance some of the players in quarantine could re-join the team in Los Angeles later this weekend.

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"It's a possibility. The good news is that these guys are testing negative with their nasal swab and saliva test. That's encouraging for us," Nationals manager Davey Martinez said.

But getting those players to Los Angeles comes with some challenges.

"They cannot travel with us because of the timeline. It's something that we are trying to work through right now. We are trying to figure out how we can get these guys there if they are allowed to meet us in L.A.," Martinez added.

There are still many unknowns with the Nationals COVID-19 outbreak, but Martinez is doing his best to stay healthy.

"I bought some extra Clorox wipes, so I've been wiping everything down. We just got to be extra careful," Martinez said.

The Nationals series with the Dodgers starts Friday. From there, the Nationals will travel to St. Louis early next week. 

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