Major League Baseball will have many safety protocols in place during its upcoming season in an attempt to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
Several players and coaches are considered to be high-risk, including Atlanta Braves third-base coach Ron Washington. The 68-year-old is a longtime smoker and will be taking added precautions during the campaign.
"Yeah, there's no doubt about it," Washington said, according to David O'Brien of The Athletic. "I've been watching the Korean baseball, what they do, and I'll probably have to wear a mask all the time on the third-base coaching line. I'll probably have to wear a mask when I'm working (with infielders). I'm just going to keep a pair of gloves on at all times. I'm just going to have to give imaginary love, won't be able to be giving that real love.
"Don't mean we can't bump elbows or bump fists. That's the only thing that’s going to be missing, but they're going to realize the love is there no matter what."
Braves outfielder Adam Duvall is a diabetic, which could put him at greater risk as well. Catcher Tyler Flowers said the risks involved make following the protocols imperative for all and not just those who have compromised immune systems.
"Everybody I've spoken with, Duvall included, they're excited," Flowers said. "They've been anxious for months at this point to get something going and to play again. Duvall's situation, obviously he has to stay on top of things, but we all have that same responsibility. Not just for ourselves, but for guys like Duvall or other guys that are high-risk, to follow the protocols and everything they've put in place.
"That's going to benefit ourselves and our families, but it's also going to benefit teammates and guys that, you know, have a little different health situation and are a little more high-risk. That's just the responsibility is on us to help him stay healthy and be able to compete and help us win."
When MLB and the players' association reached an agreement on the health protocols for the upcoming season, which is set to begin on July 23, high-risk players were reportedly given the option to sit out the season while still receiving full pay and service time. Non-players designated as high-risk will be dealt with on a team-by-team basis.