Several baseball players are opting out of the 2020 MLB Season, citing 'personal health and safety'

Joe Ross, Ryan Zimmerman, and Mike Leake are opting out of the 2020 MLB season. By Amanda Jackson, Jabari Jackson and Jill Martin, CNN

(CNN) -- Several players have decided to opt out of the rescheduled Major League Baseball season due to health concerns amid coronavirus outbreak.

Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross will not be playing the 2020 season, the team confirmed on Monday. Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake also has decided not to play this season, according to a statement from his agent.

Monday night, Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond posted an emotional message on Instagram stating he will also be opting out of playing this season. The 34-year-old, who is biracial, made reference to the ongoing racial tensions in the country and the pandemic as why his family needs him at home.

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

"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. Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys' questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad."

The news comes a week after Major League Baseball announced its season will start next month, after the pandemic upended the original schedule.

"Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross have decided not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones," Mike Rizzo, Nationals General Manager, said in a statement.

"We are one hundred percent supportive of their decision to not play this year. We will miss their presence in the clubhouse and their contributions on the field."

Zimmerman, a two-time All Star, clarified his reasoning behind the decision are family related, and feels playing puts those love ones at risk.

"Everyone knows how much it means to me to be part of a team, and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year," he said in a separate statement. "Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organization's understanding and support."

Leake also cited family being the main reason he has decided not play.

"During this global pandemic, Mike and his family had many discussions about playing this season. They took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family," Leake's agent, Danny Horwits, told CNN in a statement. " After thorough consideration, he has chosen to opt out of playing in 2020. This was not an easy decision for Mike."

Horwits added that Leake is looking forward to joining his team again in 2021.

Their decisions to opt out of playing comes during a time that coronavirus cases are rising in the US.

Other leagues that have rescheduled their seasons face similar safety concerns. Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski last week that he is opting out of playing the remainder of the NBA season when it resumes play in Florida.

Last week, executives from multiple MLB teams announced positive coronavirus test results within their respective MLB organizations.

The news of these cases came a day after MLB announced the 2020 season will begin July 23 or 24 with a schedule to play 60 games.

Normally, the 30 MLB teams each play 162 games from late March or early April to late September or early October, followed by a postseason. But the 2020 baseball season never got started because of the pandemic.

MLB players and staff will report to their respective teams starting Wednesday. Clubs can begin full workouts on Friday with Opening Day games on either July 23 or 24.

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