While Major League Baseball continues weighing options for a potential 2020 season, one veteran pitcher says players, coaches and umpires should not be forced to participate if they feel conditions are unsafe.
Speaking to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo on Wednesday, Boston Red Sox right-hander Collin McHugh says the risks associated with playing baseball during the COVID-19 pandemic might not be worth it to those with preexisting or underlying conditions, stating “you can’t tell a guy to risk his life and the life of his family and the lives of anyone he chooses to be around to come play this game.”
‘You can’t make this mandatory’
During the interview, McHugh expressed cautious optimism that MLB can formulate a plan that would allow baseball to safely return. However, he doesn’t necessarily believe there’s a magic plan that will ease everyone’s mind. If the season restarts, players will have to weigh the risks on an individual basis and should feel free to make the best decision for them.
“I’m a husband, I’m a father. There are many guys in the league with underlying conditions. With preexisting conditions, like diabetes and heart arrhythmia. You look at our coaching staffs, there’s tons of guys over 65. Umpires, there’s a lot of guys over 65. When you’re talking about the risk factors here, there are going to be some guys who sincerely have to weigh the risks of what it’s going to take to come back versus staying at home.”
“We’re in a situation right now where you can’t make this mandatory. You can’t tell a guy you have to come play or else your roster spot is not going to be here when you come back. You can’t tell a guy to risk his life and the life of his family and the lives of anyone he chooses to be around to come play this game. There’s probably going to have to be some waivers signed and whatever else you need to have done to make guys feel comfortable coming back. Then, MLB and the teams are going to have to do everything in their power so that we go about this in the best way possible and don’t just start playing games, but really set an example of how to do this, how to do it well and how to do it safely.”
No formal proposal about restarting the season has been presented to the players, union president Tony Clark confirmed on Tuesday. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the speculation. Numerous plans have been hinted at and dissected on social media. Those range from quarantined leagues in Arizona and Florida to a truncated season that would involve three 10-team divisions.
It’s reported the two sides will meet early next week in order to exchange ideas. The results of those meetings could give us the first real idea of what’s possible and what isn’t.
Baseball is not essential
Over the last few weeks, baseball’s return has become a topic not just among fans, but also in the political arena. Some, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, believe baseball’s return would help bring a sense of normalcy and comfort.
While there may be some truth in that, McHugh’s says it’s important to keep baseball’s “non-essential” role in perspective.
“I’m probably in the minority here because I see baseball for what it is, which is an amazing game but not an essential activity,” McHugh said. “We’ve got a lot of things going on in this world that we need to happen and need to get going, and we need to do it in a safe manner. It’s going to be really hard to get the risk level down to zero no matter what we’re doing. As long as this virus is still out there and as long as we don’t have a treatment or vaccine, there’s going to be risk inherent in leaving your house. For me, as a major league baseball player and as a husband and father, I want to make sure I’m protecting myself and my family, first and foremost.”
McHugh’s feelings underline all of the key factors that must be taken into consideration before MLB moves forward with a proposal. They also highlight just how delicate the process figures to be.
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