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Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes latest MLB player to opt out of season over COVID-19 concerns

Scott Clarke / ESPN ImagesBy MEREDITH DELISO and JOSHUA HOYOS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — After Yoenis Céspedes failed to report for the New York Mets’ game against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, team officials said the Mets outfielder has decided to sit out the rest of the 2020 season due to “COVID-related reasons.”

Céspedes, 34, did not tell management of his decision ahead of Sunday afternoon’s game in Atlanta. In a statement, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen had said that as of game time, the outfielder had not reported to the ballpark and they were unable to contact him.

Following the game, Van Wagenen said during a press briefing that they learned late in the game that Céspedes had decided to opt out of the season “due to COVID-related reasons.”

Céspedes has not publicly commented yet on his decision. On opening day, he had said on social media that it was an “incredible feeling” being back. “Only the beginning,” he tweeted on July 24.

Céspedes is the latest MLB player to opt out of the season in recent days due to heightened concerns over the coronavirus. On Saturday, the league said Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain would not play the rest of the season.

In a statement, Cain said, “With all of the uncertainty and unknowns surrounding our game at this time, I feel that this is the best decision for me, my wife, and our three kids.” He said he plans to return to the field in 2021.

The announcement came the same day a Cardinals-Brewers game in Milwaukee was postponed for the second straight day after St. Louis team members tested positive for the coronavirus.

Also on Saturday, Miami Marlins second baseman Isan Díaz announced that he had opted out of the season as the team contends with a COVID-19 outbreak. Since the Marlins canceled their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles scheduled for July 27, 21 members of the organization have tested positive for the virus, according to ESPN.

In a statement, Diaz said it had been a “tough week to see so many of my teammates come down with this virus, and see how quickly it spreads.”

“This has been a decision that I have discussed with my family, and I feel it’s the best one for me and my overall wellbeing,” he said.

On Saturday, the Red Sox announced that pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez will be out the rest of the season after he was diagnosed with the heart condition myocarditis following a bout with COVID-19.

According to a tally by Baseball America, 20 MLB players have opted out of the season as of Sunday.

Only players deemed high-risk can still receive their pay and service time if they opt out of the season, according to ESPN.

As of Friday, 104 players and 24 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 27, MLB reported. Last week, 29 tests — accounting for 20 players — were positive out of 11,895 samples, the league said.

The Marlins had no new positive results in its latest round of testing, MLB reported on Saturday.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has warned that the season could be shut down if the coronavirus isn’t better managed, ESPN reported on Friday.

While some professional sports leagues, including the NBA, NHL, National Women’s Soccer League and Major League Soccer, are competing in restricted sites called “bubbles” to limit the spread of COVID-19, Major League Baseball is not.

Among MLB’s coronavirus restrictions, teams are only competing with clubs located in their regional division so that travel is limited, and fans are not allowed to attend games.

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