The MLB’s Umpires Association issued a statement on Thursday supporting MLB’s health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MLBUA also refuted comments from umpire Joe West, who said on Tuesday, “I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus.”
“Recent public comments about the current Coronavirus pandemic do not in any way reflect the position of the Major League Baseball Umpires Association,” the MLBUA said in a statement. “Our nation, and our world, has suffered greatly from this deadly virus. In the midst of continued suffering umpires are attempting to do our part to bring the great game of baseball back onto the field and into the homes of fans everywhere.
West, 67, addressed his decision to return to the diamond in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Tuesday. West will return for his 42nd season in 2020, a decision that West told Rosenthal surprised MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem.
“[Halem] said, ‘According to our doctors, you’re high-risk,'” West told Rosenthal. “I said, ‘Look, most of these people that they’re reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with. I’ve lost 25 pounds over the winter. I’m playing golf every day in the heat. I’m fine. I’m not going to back down now.’”
West is 65 games shy of setting the record for most regular-season games as a major-league umpire.
“I’m chasing the rainbow. I’m chasing the end of this record,” West told Rosenthal. “I’d like to be young enough to enjoy it.”
The 2020 MLB season is slated to begin on July 23.
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