Angels' Joe Maddon: Players Who Opt out Can't Follow COVID-19 Protocols

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2020

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon gestures while speaking to media members at Tempe Diablo Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. Maddon is thrilled to be back with the organization where he spent the first three decades of his baseball career. (AP Photo/Greg Beacham)
Greg Beacham/Associated Press

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon offered his take Friday on players potentially opting out of the 2020 MLB season amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Maddon said:

"Everybody's talking about high-risk and those kinds of individuals opting out. To me the person that should opt out is the person who does not want to follow the protocols to a T at any age, at any risk. That’s hasn't been promoted enough.

"If you in your heart in hearts don't believe you could do all of this stuff, the way we need you to do all of this stuff, you're the person who should opt out."

Maddon's comments came three weeks before the scheduled start of the 2020 season on July 23. Players began reporting to training camp in their respective cities this week to prepare for the upcoming campaign.

A handful of players have already declared that they won't play this season because of concerns related to COVID-19, and Angels superstar outfielder Mike Trout is among those who have yet to come to a final decision.

Trout's wife, Jessica Cox, is pregnant and due in August. On Friday, Trout told reporters about his concerns regarding playing during a pandemic with a pregnant wife at home: "Honestly, I still don't feel comfortable. Obviously, with the baby coming, there's a lot of stuff going through my mind right now, my wife's mind and my family. Just trying to be the safest and most cautious way to get through a season."

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Trout also told reporters on a Zoom call that he is still weighing his options:

"We're playing it by ear. I think the biggest thing is this is our first child. I've got to be there. If I test positive, I can't see the baby for 14 days. We would be upset. I've got to keep Jess safe. I've got to keep the baby safe. ... I try to talk to my wife every night about this. I know I'm risking myself. I could meet somebody and get this virus. That's the last thing I want to do.

"I love baseball. I love playing this game. We all want to play. It's going to come down to how safe we are going to be. If there's an outbreak or something happens these next few weeks, we've got to reconsider."

Maddon expressed understanding for Trout's concerns:

"Being a father for first time is very significant. To do it under these circumstances, there's a lot of layers involved. A lot of concern, for his baby and his wife, but with the perspective that he needs to stay well because he needs to be around people. There's a lot to think about. You can't take any of this lightly. You don't know what sacrifice means until you have your own kid."

While teams will travel to play games during the 2020 season, Major League Baseball has put protocols in place in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Among them is limiting travel by only having teams in close geographic proximity play against each other.

Teams will only play divisional opponents and opponents in the corresponding division in the other league, meaning the New York Yankees will only face AL East and NL East teams.

Other protocols include regular COVID-19 testing for players, coaches and umpires, social distancing in locker rooms, the elimination of lineup card exchanges and the isolation of players during road trips.

The Angels haven't reached the playoffs since 2014, but they are a popular dark horse pick to win the World Series this year, especially in a short-season scenario where some pitching deficiencies can possibly be overcome.

With a three-time American League MVP in Trout being joined by a reigning World Series champion and top third baseman in Anthony Rendon, the Angels could be a dangerous team in 2020.

If Trout opts out and the Angels are without arguably the best player in baseball, however, the climb to the top will be much steeper.