With the dawn of the 2020 MLB season fast approaching, players across the league have weighed in on the league’s health protocols and testing plan. Among the steps players are taking to help ensure safety throughout the 60-game season? Wearing their masks during games.
Astros infielder Aledmys Diaz told the Houston Chronicle‘s Chandler Rome that he’s going to try to wear his mask during games, citing safety concerns for his wife and children.
“I’m going to try,” Diaz said. “I think we have to be smart about this. I feel like if I feel comfortable wearing a mask playing on the field, I’m going to use it.”
Diaz isn’t alone in considering this tactic. Earlier this week, Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos pointed out his proximity to opposing batters as a reason to wear his mask during games.
“I’m trying to see if I can do it in the game because I’m close to the guys hitting, close to the umpire and it’s going to be a challenge for us in that area to keep distance or to keep from talking between each other,” he told USA Today. “I’m the guy who’s asking the umpires questions during the game, the batters always say hello to me; I say hello back. So that’s something I need to figure out: how I’m going to deal with this.”
Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier has worn masks during the team’s scrimmages and said that players wearing masks during games could help set a good example for the viewing public. “We have a big platform,” Frazier said, per Joe Kay of the Associated Press.
Two weeks ago, former slugger Mark McGwire pushed for players to wear masks, even pointing out that the practice was done over a century ago during the flu pandemic in 1918.
Of course, not all players are on board. Rangers outfielder Hunter Pence said wearing a mask while playing would impact his breathing, though he committed to wearing a mask outside of game hours, per USA Today.
“When I’m playing and hitting or doing exertion, I’m not going to be wearing a mask, just because you need oxygen. And it’s very, very difficult,” says Pence. “I’ll be wearing the mask as often as I can, everywhere I can when I’m not playing. I’m going as extreme as I can because I realize the opportunity to have it depends on all of us doing the right things, and I want to be a message of what I think is right.”
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