Some MLBers Opting Out Of Season Restart Due To Virus Concerns
Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman and P Joe Ross were among the "first major leaguers to opt out of the 2020 season because of concerns about the novel coronavirus -- although with players due to begin reporting for mandatory virus testing this week ahead of Friday’s opening of 'summer camps,' they almost certainly will not be the last," according to Dave Sheinin of the WASHINGTON POST. The announcements from D-backs P Mike Leake, then Ross and Zimmerman, "reflected concern among some players that the risk of playing baseball amid a global pandemic may not outweigh the rewards in all cases." Baseball is "bracing for an unknown number of opt-outs this week as the opening of camps draws near." Under the terms of the health and safety agreement struck by MLB and the MLBPA last week, only those players deemed high-risk will "receive their salaries and service time if they opt out" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/30).
OTHER UNKNOWNS: Rockies CF Ian Desmond yesterday said he would not play in the '20 season, noting that he is "not comfortable with the risks involved with the COVID-19 pandemic." He added that the "need to be with his young family" is another reason he will not participate (DENVER POST, 6/30). In St. Paul, Betsy Helfand reports more news of players opting out of the season is "likely." But the Twins are "expecting their full group of players to report to the Twin Cities for preseason training" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 6/30).
NOT THE LAST: USA TODAY's Gabe Lacques wonders, "How many more Zimmermans will we never see again?" Zimmerman "made a point to say he was not retiring." But he "knows how limited the market will be in 2021 for a 36-year-old part-time first baseman." Lacques: "Same for Mike Leake. ... This concept is just getting started" (USA TODAY, 6/30). NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer said “we’re going to see more of this," noting he would expect "at least a dozen guys around baseball to opt out for their own reasons without being on the high-risk list” (“SportsTalk Live,” NBC Sports Chicago, 6/29). ESPN's Jeff Passan noted having more players opt out of the MLB season is a “realistic concern, but the biggest concern is when bigger names start opting out.” However, Passan said he did not think there was “going to be a huge stream of players who do end up opting out” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/30). MLB Network's Kevin Millar: “Everybody’s got different situations. Some have newborn babies. Some have sick family members, so there’s a situation where you’re going to do what’s best for you and your family and that’s to stay safe.” Millar: “You can’t judge any of these situations. Everybody’s unique, and everybody’s got a grandfather, mom, dad, wife or child that might be in jeopardy in this situation of COVID-19" ("Intentional Talk," MLB Network, 6/29).
IS IT WORTH IT? In N.Y., Joel Sherman writes this is the "new normal, when everything is so abnormal." This is "baseball in North America this year -- maybe all team sports." Sherman wonders, "Is it worth it?" That is the "question that every participant, fan and, perhaps most vitally," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will have to "weigh daily as Major League Baseball tries to navigate a season amid a pandemic." Manfred "controls the season." He can "stop it or cancel it or reshape it." This "puts a lot of responsibility on the commissioner to read and react to the moment" (N.Y. POST, 6/30).YAHOO SPORTS Tim Brown wrote MLB is "going to try to play." But it "would look like a much more honest endeavor had they not just spent a month-and-a-half quarreling over who would make the money from it." Brown: "But, here we are. The game will be welcomed back, even amid empty ballparks in a shortened season, because some is better than none. The sacrifices, hopefully, are temporary" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/29).