WHILE Major League Baseball explores scenarios in which it can start the season amid the coronavirus pandemic, at least one player isn’t willing to leave his family to play games in a biodome-like setting.
Boston Red Sox right-hander Collin McHugh told MassLive’s “The Fenway Rundown” podcast that concerns about his family outweigh his desire to get back on the field.
“We’re in a situation right now where you can’t make this mandatory,” he said. “You can’t tell a guy you have to come play or else your roster spot is not going to be here when you come back. You can’t tell a guy to risk his life and the life of his family and the lives of anyone he chooses to be around to come play this game.
“There’s probably going to have to be some waivers signed and whatever else you need to have done to make guys feel comfortable coming back. Then, MLB and the teams are going to have to do everything in their power so that we go about this in the best way possible and don’t just start playing games, but really set an example of how to do this, how to do it well and how to do it safely.”
McHugh, 32, and his wife have two young children. He said being told he would have to leave his family to be quarantined at a far-off location would be a “non-starter.”
“I’m probably in the minority here because I see baseball for what it is, which is an amazing game but not an essential activity,” McHugh said. “We’ve got a lot of things going on in this world that we need to happen and need to get going, and we need to do it in a safe manner. It’s going to be really hard to get the risk level down to zero no matter what we’re doing.
“As long as this virus is still out there and as long as we don’t have a treatment or vaccine, there’s going to be risk inherent in leaving your house. For me, as a major league baseball player and as a husband and father, I want to make sure I’m protecting myself and my family, first and foremost.”
He added of plans for games in neutral sites with players sequestered, “I think guys were not interested in coming back in a situation in which their lives would be turned upside down, once again, in order to play a game that is not essential right now. There are more things we need to get done before we play a baseball game.”
McHugh signed a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Red Sox as a free agent in March. He spent the previous six seasons with the Houston Astros, winning a World Series ring in 2017.
Last season, McHugh went 4-5 with a 4.70 ERA in 35 games (eight starts). Including his time with the New York Mets (2012-13) and the Colorado Rockies (2013), McHugh has a 58-43 career record with a 3.95 ERA in 210 games (119 starts).