Mets-Nationals game is postponed after a positive test.

WASHINGTON — Major League Baseball sailed through roughly six weeks of spring training without any major coronavirus disruptions, but just hours before first pitches were set to be thrown across the country, the problem lurched up again.

The Mets’ season-opening game against the Washington Nationals was postponed on Thursday because of at least one positive coronavirus test among the Nationals players and because several other players were determined to have been close contacts with that individual, which requires them to be isolated as well.

The earliest the game can be played is Saturday.

M.L.B. issued a statement Thursday saying that the game was postponed “because of ongoing contact tracing involving members of the Nationals organization. Out of an abundance of caution, the game will not be made up on Friday.”

The delay means the Mets and their fans will have to wait at least a few more days to see Francisco Lindor, their new superstar shortstop who just agreed to a 10-year, $341 million contract extension, make his Mets debut.

Jacob deGrom of the Mets had been slated to start Thursday’s game against Max Scherzer of the Nationals in a matchup of Cy Young Award winners. They will likely keep those assignments for whenever the game ends up being played.

On Wednesday, Mike Rizzo, Washington’s general manager, said that five players and one staff member were already ruled out of Thursday’s game. They include the unidentified player who tested positive and at least four other players and the staffer, who were in close contact with him. More could eventually be identified.

Rizzo was confident at the time that the game would be played on Thursday. He noted that the Nationals were tested again on Wednesday, but the results of those tests were not available at the time he spoke. It is not known if any additional players tested positive.

The original positive test came from a round of testing done on Monday, the last day of spring training for the Nationals. Following that game, the team flew back to Washington. Rizzo said he was alerted to the positive test after 1 a.m. on Wednesday.

Last year, dozens of games were postponed after outbreaks on various teams, resulting in complicated rescheduling plans, with many teams playing multiple doubleheaders across the sport. This year, M.L.B. had wanted to postpone the season a month to allow more time for players and staff members to get vaccinated and for virus infection rates to drop around the country, but were unable to gain approval of the plan from the players’ union.

M.L.B. has offered to relax coronavirus restrictions on teams once 85 percent of players and staff members are fully vaccinated.

— David Waldstein

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