Washington Nationals coach Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross will not be able to play in the 2020 season, the team confirmed Monday. Arizona Diamondbacks right-back pitcher Mike Leake has also decided not to play this season, according to a statement from his agent.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this a baseball season that is a risk that I am not comfortable taking,” his post reads.
“With a pregnant wife and four children who have many questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be now. Home to my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer .and my three oldest male questions about the Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. The home to be their Dad. “
“Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross have decided not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones,” Mike Rizzo, National General Manager, said in a statement.
“We are one hundred percent supporting his decision not to play this year. We will miss his presence at the clubhouse and his contributions on the field.”
Zimmerman, a two-time All Star, explains his reasoning behind the decision they have in relation to family, and feels like playing put on those fans.
“Everyone knows what it means for me to be part of a team, and we will miss the dear camaraderie this year,” he said in a separate statement. “Of course I would love to pursue titles back-to-back. I can’t speak for anyone, but given the nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I will really appreciate the understanding and support of the organization. “
Leake also cited family as the main reason he decided not to play.
“During this global pandemic, Mike and his family had a lot of discussions about playing this season. They’ve taken countless factors, many of which are personal to him and his family,” Leake agent Danny Horwits said to CNN in a statement. “After complex consideration, he chose to opt to play in 2020. This was not an easy decision for Mike.”
Horwits added that Leake expects to rejoin his team in 2021.
His decisions to opt out of the game come during a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise in the United States.
Typically, the 30 MLB teams each play 162 games from late March or early April to late September or early October, followed by a season. But the 2020 baseball season never started because of the pandemic.
MLB players and staff will report back to their respective teams starting Wednesday. Clubs can start full training on Friday with Opening Day games on July 23rd or 24th.
CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.