In this June 26, 2020, file photo Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, center, speaks as Vice President Mike Pence, right, and Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, left, listen during a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington. Credit: Susan Walsh / AP

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WASHINGTON — Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the first game of Major League Baseball’s pandemic-delayed regular season.

The Washington Nationals announced Monday that Fauci — a self-described fan of the reigning World Series champions — accepted the team’s invitation to have the pregame honor Thursday night.

The Nationals host the New York Yankees to open the season nearly four months after it originally was scheduled to begin. Spring training was halted in March because of the COVID-19 outbreak and teams resumed preparing to play this month.

In their news release about Fauci’s role at the opener, the Nationals refer to him as “a true champion for our country” during the pandemic “and throughout his distinguished career.”