As Major League Baseball teams prepare to start training camp this week, at least one player isn’t so sure that the 2020 season will actually be played.
“There’s still a part of me that isn’t quite sure we will actually play games,” Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun said, per the Los Angeles Times. “I’m optimistic that we will play games, but obviously if we look at what’s happening in the country, the COVID numbers are not good. There are a significant number of athletes who have tested positive, which is indicative of the overall numbers in our country right now.”
The league is aiming to start regular-season games by July 23 or 24, despite half of MLB’s 30 teams playing in states that have seen a rise in coronavirus cases. Additionally, the league has no plans to take a “bubble” approach to the 2020 season like what the NBA, WNBA and MLS put in place for their upcoming seasons.
Teams are also permitted to play in their usual ballparks, with some organizations tossing around the idea of opening up stadiums to fans at a lower capacity.
“We’re all hopeful we’ll be able to complete a season,” Braun said. “Ultimately, the most important factor in all of this is the safety and health of everyone involved because we’re going to be traveling, staying in hotels, riding on buses and airplanes and doing all of these things where we will be around and interacting with people in communities all over the country.
“If our health and safety become compromised, we would all be understanding but at the same time disappointed of having to cancel the season.”
Braun, 36, has three young children and a wife that he isn’t comfortable with traveling to Milwaukee from Malibu under the current circumstances. He said he is hoping to see whether there is even a 2020 season and where coronavirus cases are in both regions next month. Some players have already opted out of this season.
“They won’t come initially because there’s a lot of unknowns and uncertainty,” he said. “I think it’s easier and safer to stay here for now and then we’ll assess how things go and if everything is normal and safe.”
The six-time All-Star mentioned how some of his Brewers teammates make fun of him for being one of the older members of the team and speculating that the 2020 season might be his last in the league.
And with Braun turning 37 in November and entering the final year of his five-year, $105 million extension with Milwaukee, it very well could be.
“I do have three young children, so certainly it’s a possibility,” he said. “We’ll see how this year goes and see where I’m at physically.”