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Mike Trout unsure he’ll play in 2020 because he’s ‘very concerned’ about COVID-19

Angels center fielder Mike Trout bats during a spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Angels slugger Mike Trout says keeping his family safe amid the COVID-19 outbreak is his top priority.
(Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press)

Major League Baseball is scheduled to begin an abbreviated season at the end of July, and there is a significant chance one of the sport’s three-time MVPs might not be on the field.

Angels star Mike Trout said in his first video conference of training camp Friday that he and his wife, Jessica, have daily discussed the possibility of him sitting out to avoid becoming infected by the coronavirus.

The couple is expecting their first child in August.

“I love playing this game. We want to play,” Trout said prior to participating in practice. “It’s going to come down to how safe we’re going to be. If there’s an outbreak, you definitely have to reconsider. There’s a lot of questions. I love baseball, but I have to do what’s right for my family. It’s going to be a tough decision if something happens down the road.”

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Trout has been vocal about protecting the health of his family since the pandemic shut down sports in March. He was also adamant about being at his wife’s side when she goes into labor, something that would have been hard to accomplish had the league decided to pursue playing in a bubble like the NBA. He added Friday that he still fears not being able to witness his child’s birth.

“I think the biggest thing is, these next few weeks, if I test positive, it’s my first child, and I have to be there,” Trout said. “If I’m positive, doctors have told me I can’t see the baby for 14 days. Jess won’t see the baby for 14 days if she tests positive. We’re going to be upset.”

So Trout is reserving a determination on his playing status until a later date. There is a possibility outbreaks across the league could force MLB to reevaluate the chances of staging a season safely.

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Manager Joe Maddon has spoken to Trout about his concerns more than once, including during a Zoom team meeting Thursday night. More than 100 players and staff members aired their feelings about returning to baseball while the COVID-19 pandemic surges across the United States.

“We want to make sure that they make an informed decision,” Maddon said. “That’s it. There’s no bias involved. There’s nobody trying to influence anybody’s decision. They have to speak to their own truth, how they feel about things. So right now, we’re trying to give them as much as we possibly can and let them decide.”

MLB has put into practice numerous safeguards to protect against outbreaks, including strict protocols limiting the number of players who can occupy certain areas of the stadium at a time. The restrictions provide Trout only a modicum of relief. He must trust others to behave responsibly. And there are no explicit guidelines impeding players from engaging in high-risk activities off the field, only language imploring individuals to adhere to personal codes of conduct.

“I think everyone has to be accountable,” Trout said. “A lot of guys have families, some are single and younger, need to get out of the house. It’s going to take a group effort, and one guy can mess this up. One guy can go out and not wear a mask and contract this virus and bring it into the clubhouse. Everyone has to take responsibility, everyone has to think about each other, think twice about doing this, doing that, be safe as possible.

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“It takes one guy to bring that into the clubhouse, and you know how contagious this virus is. It’s going to be tough to contain.”

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Trout was one of the few Angels players to wear a face covering for the duration of on-field workouts Friday. The three-time MVP seemed to remove the mask only when he needed to catch his breath following sprints and while chasing fly balls in center field.

Per the 100-plus-page MLB operations manual, players are not required to wear face coverings when they’re engaging in strenuous activity. But they will be made to use masks in virtually every other off-field scenario until the end of the season — or until they’re sent back home because of an unmanageable flare-up of the coronavirus.

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Whichever comes first.

“Everyone’s trying to get the game back,” Trout said. “But we have to get it back in the healthiest and safest way.”

To this point, the Angels have largely been unaffected by the virus. Two players within the organization tested positive last month, though neither was working out at team facilities in Anaheim or Tempe, Ariz.

Nine or 10 of the 56 players added to the training roster were not available to work out Friday. Maddon said he could not disclose the players ' names or offer a reason for their absences, but he said none had opted out of the season.


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