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David Price cites health, family in opting out of 2020 season

Fellow Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez also announces he won't play this year

David Price's debut with the Dodgers will have to wait until 2021, the former Red Sox lefty choosing not to play this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
David Price's debut with the Dodgers will have to wait until 2021, the former Red Sox lefty choosing not to play this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

David Price won’t pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, the polarizing former Red Sox starter becoming the highest-profile Major League Baseball player yet to opt out of the 2020 campaign due to concerns about the coronavirus.

“After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me not to play this season,” Price posted on social media Saturday afternoon, during the team’s second official summer workout at Dodger Stadium. “I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year. Stay safe, be well, and be kind. And Go Dodgers!”

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The team put out a statement saying they “fully support David’s decision” and “understand how much this deliberation weighed on him and his family.”

Los Angeles acquired Price along with Mookie Betts from the Red Sox in a blockbuster February trade consummated after weeks of public negotiations. The 34-year-old still has three years left on the $217 million megadeal he signed with Boston before the 2016 season; he was due to make a prorated $11.5 million this season, with approximately half of that being paid by the Red Sox.

Last month, Price committed to pay $1,000 to all Dodgers’ minor leaguers not on the team’s 40-man roster, an outlay of nearly a quarter million dollars that nearly matched the $400-a-week payments teams across the league are paying their minor leaguers during the pandemic.

Price is at least the seventh player to choose not to play this season, joining Colorado’s Ian Desmond, Arizona’s Mike Leake, a trio of Washington Nationals (including former All-Star Ryan Zimmerman), and 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. Hernandez signed a minor-league deal with Atlanta in January, but cited similar familiar concerns to Price in opting out through his agent on Saturday night.

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Yankees’ Tanaka takes Stanton liner off head

Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was released from New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Saturday night, having been hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive during live batting practice at Yankee Stadium, a frightening scene during the team’s first official summer camp workout.

“I appreciate all the support. I feel it a bit right now, but I’m all good,” Tanaka tweeted. “Going to try to get back on the mound ASAP! Thanks again for all the encouraging words!”

Trainers quickly ran to Tanaka, whose hat flew off and stayed down for a few minutes after he was struck, eventually checking his vision. The 31-year-old was helped to his feet and walked off the field with help.

Stanton, who had his jaw broken by a high fastball in 2014, bent over at home plate and watched motionlessly. He was the third batter Tanaka faced to start the session, for which no protective screen was in place.

“That’s kind of a freak accident, one in a million chance of happening,” said lefthander Jordan Montgomery, who requested a screen for his session and replaced Tanaka on the mound about five minutes later. “When it does, it’s terrifying.”

Later Saturday, the team announced both DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa tested positive for coronavirus prior to arriving in New York for intake testing. Both are symptomatic, but Cessa’s symptoms were described by manager Aaron Boone as mild.

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All-Star Freeman among latest to announce positive tests

Atlanta Braves four-time All-Star Freddie Freeman, reliever Will Smith, righthander Touki Toussaint, and infielder Pete Kozma have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Manager Brian Snitker said Freeman had a negative intake test before having a positive test on Friday, and that “it will be a while before we can get him back.” Freeman’s wife, Chelsea, wrote on Instagram that the 30-year-old “had body aches, headaches, chills and a high fever since Thursday. He is someone who literally never gets sick and this virus hit him like a ton of bricks.”

Freeman set career highs with 38 home runs and 121 RBIs last season in helping Atlanta win its second straight NL East title.

Also Saturday, the Miami Marlins said four players have tested positive, including one during this week’s screening that preceded the start of summer camp. All are self-quarantining.

Posey still unsure on this season, but Boras bullish

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey said there are “still some reservation on my end” when asked whether he’d take part in the 2020 season.

“I think I want to see kind of how things progress here over the next couple of weeks,” he added.

Posey said he wouldn’t be surprised by any development right now, including the cancellation of MLB’s planned 60-game season. The US has seen a surge in new coronavirus cases with a series of daily records in recent days.

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“It would be a little bit maybe 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,” Posey said. “Obviously unprecedented times right now so most definitely I’ve thought about it and talked about it with my wife quite a bit.”

Superagent Scott Boras, however, told Bloomberg he looks at the successes of leagues in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and believes games can safely return without fans.

“We have an understating that baseball is a socially distant sport unlike basketball and football,” said Boras. “There’s been a clear adaptation of protocols in other environments.”

To be sure, the countries where play has safely resumed have had more success containing the virus than the US. The immunologists Boras says he’s consulted have told him that the incidence rate at large in a country wasn’t a primary concern. Those experts, he said, emphasized that a safe return is predicated on players adhering to safety protocols.

“All of my clients have reported,” he said. “Frankly, there’s more concern for those in the higher age brackets with teams and their parents and grandparents. They worry about isolating them.”