Often left unsaid in all the reports and speculation about the scenarios Major League Baseball is considering in efforts to play a 2020 season is the especially high health risks that many essential personnel in the game will face, regardless of how much coronavirus testing is available by then.
That includes two former Cubs managers considered in the high-risk age range: the Angels’ Joe Maddon, 66, and the Astros’ Dusty Baker, 70.
Has Maddon worried about that risk as he makes plans for a possible season amid the global COVID-19 pandemic?
“I haven’t to this point until you just asked me,” he said with a chuckle during a conversation this week with NBC Sports Chicago.
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Maddon, perhaps not surprisingly, seems less concerned with the risk-factor statistics than the process of being as prepared as possible to stay healthy.
“I’m on a roll right now,” he said of his health and fitness regime. “When I was in Arizona, I rode my bike for 40 consecutive days — four-zero. And I’ve been getting my rest, and I’ve been trying to stay proactive in front of everything also.
“I want to believe if I were to contract it, I’d be able to fight it off. That’s the premise I’m working from. So I don’t necessarily worry about it. I have a faith that I’m doing the right things leading into it.”
That includes a focus on daily nutrition, he said: “the supplements I’m taking, a lot of Vitamin C, a lot of zinc in my water, all the necessary seleniums. I research everything.
“I’m doing this stuff proactively to give myself the best shot that if I was impacted I’d be able to fight it off.”
He and Baker aren’t the only potential baseball personnel in the high-risk groups. Some coaches and umpires also are fall into the age range considered higher risk, along with some clubhouse personnel.
And underlying risk factors even affect some players. Cubs pitcher Brandon Morrow, for instance, has Type I diabetes, which is considered one of those factors.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and pitcher Jon Lester are cancer survivors who underwent chemotherapy to recover early in their professional careers. Some research has suggested that’s another risk factor for more severe reaction if the virus is contracted.
Rizzo said several weeks ago he didn’t believe he was at a higher risk.
“I’m at full strength,” he said. “All my blood work — it’s not like I’m low on any levels. All my lungs and liver and everything functions like it should be functioning, as it should be functioning as a 30-year-old athlete. So I’m not worried about it.”
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He might be right. But Americans in their 20s and 30s, with no apparent underlying risks, already have died in this country from COVID-19.
The Oakland A’s on Friday announced the coronavirus death of former prospect Miguel Marte, 30.
It’s at least a reminder of how many hurdles remain to be cleared — beyond salary arrangements with players and umpires, or even testing capacity — before a season can be started.
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