MLB players have begun to decide they'll sit out this season because of the risk of contracting the coronavirus. The Washington Nationals will try to defend their World Series title without infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross, the AP reports. And Arizona Diamondbacks announced Monday that pitcher Mike Leake won't play this year, either. Major League Baseball is attempting to start a 60-game season in late July. The Nationals' general manager said Zimmerman and Ross are opting out to protect themselves and their families. "We are 100% supportive of their decision to not play this year," he said. Leake's agent said the pandemic also is behind his client's decision. "This was not an easy decision for Mike," the agent said. "He wishes the best of luck and health for his Diamondback teammates this season and he’s looking forward to 2021."
Leake was due about $5.5 million as the prorated share of his $15 million salary, per the AP. Zimmerman was due $740,741 and Ross $555,556. Only players deemed high risk are paid if they opt out. The face of the Nationals franchise, Zimmerman has said his mother is vulnerable to complications from the coronavirus, and he has three young children—including a newborn. In a diary he's writing for the AP, Zimmerman said last week that his mother has multiple sclerosis and "is super high-risk; if I end up playing, I can pretty much throw out the idea of seeing her until weeks after the season is over." In a statement issued Monday, Zimmerman said, "Everyone knows how much it means to me to be part of a team and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year."
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