MLB Star Ian Desmond Opts Out of 2020 Season Due to COVID-19 Concerns: 'Home Is Where I Need to Be'
Ian Desmond also addressed racism in the MLB in his passionate Instagram statement
Ian Desmond will not be playing in the 2020 MLB season.
The Colorado Rockies outfielder, 34, made the announcement at the end of a lengthy Instagram post he shared on Monday, citing concern for the coronavirus pandemic as his main reason for withdrawing.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking," Desmond wrote.
"With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what's going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now,'' the athlete added. "Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys' questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad.''
In his nine-slide post, Desmond, who is biracial, also touched on issues of racism in the MLB, as well as homophobia, sexism, and cheating scandals.
"Think about it: right now baseball we’ve got a labor war," he said. "We’ve got rampant individualism on the field. In the clubhouses, we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating. We’ve got minority issue(s) from the top down. One African American GM. Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners."
“America’s pastime is failing to do what it could, just like the country it entertains," Desmond said.
Desmond, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and made his major league debut in 2009, advocated for giving opportunities to youth baseball players from "underprivileged communities."
"Why aren't accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids' development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances?" Desmond said. "It's hard to wrap your head around it.''
Now that he's taking the season off, Desmond vowed to make a difference and help Sarasota Youth Baseball get back on track.
"It's what I can do, in the scheme of so much," he said. "So, I am."
The MLB did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Desmond, a two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger, was about to enter his 12th season in the major leagues and his fourth with the Rockies.
He is now the latest MLB star to opt-out of the upcoming abbreviated season, following Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Mike Leake and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross.
The 60-game 2020 MLB season is expected to begin next month and end in September, while the postseason will end by October.
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