As Major League Baseball reportedly prepares to present players with its plan on opening the 2020 season, one group of players with a particular eye on the league’s health policies are those with immunodeficiencies or other underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
However, in a report by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Monday, players known to have such conditions appear ready to put their faith in MLB’s doctors and medical personnel and play ball with the rest of the players.
Rosenthal and ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported earlier in the day that the league’s proposal will be sent to the Major League Players Association for approval as soon as Tuesday, and it is believed that health and safety concerns will be addressed in the document.
One of those players is Colorado Rockies outfielder David Dahl, whose 2015 spleen removal following an outfield collision in the minors leaves him more susceptible to contracting the virus.
“It’s definitely scary ... my immune system is pretty bad,” Dahl reportedly told Rosenthal. “But I trust the medical experts, the guys with the Rockies, everyone who will be involved that if we do come back and play, we’ll be safe and taking the right precautions to make sure we aren’t at a greater risk.”
Oakland A’s relief pitcher Jake Diekman, who has ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune condition, is concerned about baseball players receiving preferential treatment for coronavirus testing over the health-care workers.
“I want to play just the same as anyone, otherwise I wouldn’t be throwing and working out,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But if they’re going to test us all the time, are we taking tests from people who really need it?
“I don’t want us to get tested every other day and basically snake all these tests because they want to put on MLB, and yet let’s say the hospitals in Oakland, we’re borrowing theirs, if 50 people a day can get tested but it would be 100 if we weren’t taking them.”
The Chronicle’s list of other baseball players with known health conditions that might put them at risk for COVID-19: Type-1 diabetes (Kohl Stewart, Orioles; Jordan Hicks, Cardinals; Brett Martin, Rangers; Adam Duvall, Braves; Scott Alexander, Dodgers), past treatment for cancer (Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo, Cubs; Tim Hill, Royals; Daniel Norris, Tigers), colitis (Kyle Gibson, Rangers), and heart conditions (Kenley Jansen, Dodgers; Carlos Carrasco, Indians).
Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle tweeted a link to Rosenthal’s story and replied, “There are a number of players & staff who have pre-existing conditions that they are aware of (and likely more who aren’t yet). We need a plan that seriously considers the increased health concerns of any players, staff or workers who are at higher risk.
“And if even mild cases can cause long-term health effects, will there be added healthcare benefits for players, staff and workers that will extend beyond their employment and into retirement to mitigate the unknown risks of putting on a baseball season during a pandemic?
“We don’t have a vaccine yet, and we don’t really have any effective anti-viral treatments. What happens if there is a second wave? Hopefully we can come up with BOTH a proactive health plan focused on prevention AND a reactive plan aimed at containment.
“Hopefully these concerns will be addressed in MLB’s proposal, first and foremost: 1) what’s the plan to ethically acquire enough tests? 2) what’s the protocol if a player, staff member, or worker contracts the virus? We want to play. And we want everyone to stay safe.”
—Field Level Media