July 10 (UPI) -- The Washington Nationals didn't have a stadium packed with roaring fans when they received their World Series rings. Instead, the reigning MLB champions picked up the jewelry from their lockers at summer camp.
Nationals players arrived Thursday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to find the rings in wrapped boxes placed in their lockers before the workout.
MLB players have trained at their home stadiums in recent weeks to prepare for the 2020 season, which has been shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.
No fans are allowed to attend the workouts, and fans will not be allowed to attend the Nationals' first game of the season July 23 in Washington. The Nationals would have received the championship rings in front of thousands of supporters in April, but the MLB season start was postponed due to the pandemic.
"Let's put it this way, it was definitely worth the wait," Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters Thursday. "We waited a while to get these things on our fingers.
"I look at it, and it's all about all the work that we put into this, the way the players did it. It just means a lot to me. It means a lot to my family. I'm proud to be wearing this thing."
The Nationals swept the Houston Astros in four games to win the World Series in October. The commemorative yellow gold and white gold rings weigh 23.2 carats, and the design features several moments from the title run. The rings have 42 rubies, 32 sapphires and 108 diamonds.
"For me, it's definitely sad that we couldn't have the fans here with us," Martinez said. "Our fans are our 26th man. They were there through thick and thin with us all year long. But I've always said this, we'll do this again hopefully with them in the stands."
Washington general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters in April the team would not raise a World Series banner at the stadium or distribute the rings until the fanbase could be "involved."
"It's unfortunate that we couldn't have done in front of a sell-out crowd, because the fans were so special," Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg said.
The Nationals are scheduled to play the New York Yankees at 7:08 p.m. EDT July 23 at Nationals Park.