Editor’s note: This first appeared on AMNY.com
Considering the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak, more notable ballplayers are expected to opt out of Major League Baseball’s 2020 shortened season.
Los Angeles Dodgers starter David Price was the latest player to announce that he will sit out amid the pandemic, joining the likes of Washington Nationals veteran Ryan Zimmerman and Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond.
Price will be deferring roughly $12 million of his prorated salary by sitting out this season considering he is not considered a high-risk individual to be impacted by the virus.
Regardless, he’ll only help pave the way for more players to stay on the sidelines this season.
MLB’s initial coronavirus numbers announced this weekend were promising with just 31 players and seven staff members yielding positive results from 3,185 tests administered — just a 1.2% clip.
Some of those positive results, however, have shaken the confidence of some players ramping back up to game shape during summer camp ahead of the league’s July 23 start, per ESPN’s Buster Olney on Sunday morning.
Notable players testing positive in recent days include Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu, both of whom were All-Stars last season. Other big names include Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
With hesitancy increasingly prevalent amongst MLB’s ranks, two of the game’s most recognizable names have been toying with the idea of sitting out this season.
San Francisco Giants catcher and three-time World Series champion Buster Posey admitted that, “It would be a little bit naive or silly not to gauge what’s going on around you.”
“Not only around you here but paying attention to what’s happening in the country, in different parts of the country,” he continued. “Obviously unprecedented times right now so most definitely I’ve thought about it and talked about it with my wife quite a bit.”
Philadelphia Phillies starter Zack Wheeler is also unsure if he’ll play this season after his wife gives birth to their child despite saying he’s a go for 2020.
“We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium,” he said. “I’m happy with what I see so far, but things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day.”
What could be an even larger blow for the game’s popularity this year — which has taken multiple hits during frustratingly ineffective negotiations between the league and players’ union — is the possibility of Los Angeles Angels superstar and three-time AL MVP, Mike Trout, sitting out.
The 28-year-old’s wife is pregnant and made it known that keeping them healthy is a “top priority.”
“Honestly, I still don’t feel that comfortable. It’s going to be tough. I’ve got to be really cautious these next couple weeks,” he said. “I don’t want to test positive. I don’t want to bring it back to my wife. It’s a tough situation we’re in.”
While coronavirus cases have cropped up across all major sports leagues attempting to return this month, MLB has the potential to be the most impacted.
The NBA, NHL and MLS are returning to neutral, bubble sites to isolate its players and staff members as best as possible. MLB, however, will have its teams playing in their home ballparks and traveling throughout the 60-game slate.