Play ball — and mask up, too.
Protective face coverings won’t be out of sight when Major League Baseball resumes in less than two weeks. Some players and coaches are planning to wear them on the field.
MLB’s safety protocols require masks in clubhouses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and coaches and managers are required to wear them in dugouts, but they’re optional on the field. Some are going to wear them during games as well.
New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier has been experimenting with various masks during intrasquad scrimmages. He says it’s not only a matter of safety but setting an example during televised games.
“We have a big platform,” Frazier said.
Safety is a concern, too. Teammates Aroldis Chapman, DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa are all sidelined due to the virus.
Frazier won’t be alone.
“I’m masking up, too,” Atlanta third base coach Ron Washington said.
At 68, Washington has seen fellow Braves coach Eric Young Sr. and Mets hitting coach Chili Davis opt out this season.
“I know I’m one of the high-risk guys,” he said. “I trust the protocol that MLB has in place and I also trust Ron Washington even more.”
“This is very safe,” he said Sunday, adding, “Sixty games? I can hide out for 60 games.”
Wearing a mask, that is.
Most players have gone mask-less during on-field workouts.
“I won’t be wearing a mask during a game,” Cincinnati pitcher Trevor Bauer said recently. “If I have a mask on, it will be hard for me to breathe.”
On Sunday, another major leaguer was out of commission because of COVID-19. Brewers pitcher Eric Lauer said he’s on the injured list because he was in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. His test result was negative.
Brewers shortstop Luis Urias and pitcher Angel Perdomo are sidelined because of the virus. Both have tested positive but don’t have symptoms, manager Craig Counsell said.
While players scrimmage to get ready for games, umpires also are starting to return.
The Yankees brought in professional umpires Sean Barber, Roberto Ortiz and Junior Valentine to oversee an intrasquad game Sunday after using bullpen catcher Radley Haddad to call balls and strikes during scrimmages. More umpires are expected to start working intrasquad games this week.
“That’s not an easy job,” said outfielder Brett Gardner, who was displeased with a called third strike by Haddad a day earlier.
STILL NO JUDGE OR TANAKA
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was held out of action for a second straight day Sunday due to a stiff neck. The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year was scratched from a simulated game Saturday after waking up with a sore neck.
Also, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka played catch but remains in concussion protocol. The Japanese starter was hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s 112 mph line drive eight days ago. Manager Aaron Boone is still uncertain when Tanaka will return to the mound.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
Managers are embracing crowd noise played over public address systems during games in empty stadiums, which would provide cover for conversations between players and coaches that might otherwise be overheard.
“What we’ve heard (as a possibility) is more of a background noise where it’s simulating crowd noise, so when the catcher slides you don’t hear the cleats in the dirt,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It would be more comfortable if there was some kind of noise.”
The Reds have experimented with different types of crowd simulations during their intrasquad scrimmages at Great American Ball Park. They’re waiting for guidance from MLB.
“I know a lot of teams and sports have used artificial noise and it’s been a success, but if it feels too forced or fake it might get on your nerves and feel more of a negative than a positive,” manager David Bell said.
DUVALL IS WILLING
Braves outfielder Nick Markakis and pitcher Félix Hernández have said they will sit out this season. Outfielder Adam Duvall, who has Type 1 diabetes, has elected to play after talking to doctors.
“I felt that I was in a good position as long as I did what I needed to do as far as staying safe, trying to keep my distance, washing my hands, everything they’ve talked about,” he said. “I was anxious to play. As far as right now, I don’t feel like I’m in any type of danger.”
AP Sports Writers Jake Seiner, Steve Megargee and Steven Wine contributed to this report.
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