Colorado's Desmond to skip MLB season over virus concerns


Los Angeles (AFP)

Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond will skip Major League Baseball's coronavirus-shortened 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, becoming the fourth player to opt out of the campaign.

The 34-year-old American, a two-time All-Star who has played 11 MLB seasons, announced his decision in an Instagram post.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking," Desmond wrote.

"With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what's going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now."

Desmond batted .255 with 20 home runs and 65 runs batted in over 140 games last season for the Rockies, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross, who helped the club win the World Series last year, and Arizona pitcher Mike Leake were the first to announce they would sit out the upcoming MLB season, which is set to begin July 23.

Teams will each play 60 games, 40 against divisional foes and 20 against the same regional division from the opposite league, with all contests in empty home stadiums.

Players are due to report to clubs on Wednesday.