All-Star SS Ian Desmond to skip MLB season, cites social injustice, COVID-19

June 30 (UPI) — Colorado Rockies shortstop Ian Desmond will sit out Major League Baseball’s season restart. The two-time All-Star cited concern about the coronavirus risk to his family and social injustice as his reasons.

Desmond announced his decision Monday on social media. The 11-year veteran hit .255 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs in 140 games last season for the Rockies. He spent his first seven seasons with the Washington Nationals. He is signed through 2022.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking,” Desmond wrote.

The 2020 MLB season was suspended during spring training in mid-March. The resumed campaign is scheduled to start on July 23 or 24.

“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,” Desmond wrote.

“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.”

Desmond, 34, began his message with an explanation for why he has recently opened up about his “thoughts and experiences as a biracial man in America.” He also cited the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody and discussed growing up in Sarasota, Fla.

He said he recently visited Little League fields in the area and found them to be in bad shape. Desmond wrote about how important youth baseball was for him as a child and how access to the game is limited for underprivileged children.

“Why can’t we support teaching the game to all kids — but especially those in underprivileged communities?” Desmond wrote. “Why aren’t accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids’ development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances? It’s hard to wrap your head around it.”

Desmond said he will use some of his time off to help Sarasota Youth Baseball rebound so it can help more children. He will forfeit more than $400,000 of prorated salary by not playing in 2020. Desmond has an $8 million salary in 2021.

The star shortstop joined Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross in opting out of the resumed MLB season.

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