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If the league does play what would be a shortened season – perhaps under unique circumstances – McHugh believes that players should have the option to not report if they’re uncomfortable with doing so.
“We’re in a situation right now where you can’t make this mandatory,” the right-hander told MassLive’s Chris Cotillo during an appearance on the “Fenway Rundown” podcast. “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.”
Multiple proposals have been floated to kick-start a shortened 2020 baseball season, including one that would isolate teams in Arizona and another in which teams would play at home in realigned divisions based on geography to reduce travel. However, there are plenty of hurdles to clear before a season starts, and despite all the ideas being thrown around, MLB reportedly has no concrete plans for a start date.
Many players have publicly expressed reservations about resuming play during the pandemic and potentially being separated from their families in order to do so. McHugh, a married father of two, counts himself in that group and said he wouldn’t even consider leaving his wife and children behind to play baseball.
The 32-year-old, who signed with the Red Sox one week before MLB shut down spring training, has been involved in restart talks through his work with the MLB Players Association. He believes plenty of other players around the league would also refuse to report.
“That’s a sincere possibility,” McHugh said. “I’m a husband, I’m a father. There are many guys in the league with underlying conditions – with preexisting conditions, like diabetes and heart arrhythmias. You look at our coaching staffs, there’s tons of guys over 65; umpires, there’s a lot of guys over 65.
“When you’re talking about the risk factors here, there are going to be some guys who sincerely have to weigh the risks of what it’s going to take to come back versus staying at home.”