June 30, 2020 / 3:12 PM / 3 days ago

Rockies' Desmond to sit out MLB season citing host of concerns

(Reuters) - Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond has said he will sit out the Major League Baseball (MLB) season, citing the risks of playing during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as concerns over the lack of Black representation in the sport.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortable taking," Desmond wrote here on his Instagram account.

“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 34-year-old also spoke about the need for more Black representation in baseball and posed questions about why the game was not accessible to underprivileged children.

“We’ve got rampant individualism on the field,” Desmond, a two-time All-Star, added. “In clubhouses we’ve got racist, sexist, homophobic jokes or flat-out problems. We’ve got cheating.

“We’ve got a minority issue from the top down. One African American GM (general manager). Two African American managers. Less than 8% Black players. No Black majority team owners.

“Perhaps most disheartening of all is a puzzling lack of focus on understanding how to change those numbers.”

Desmond also said he wanted to fix the youth baseball system in Sarasota, Florida, and help his children understand the civil rights movement in the country.

Desmond joins a growing list of players who have chosen to sit out the shortened 60-game season which is set to begin either on July 23 or 24.

On Monday, Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman - a long-time former teammate of Desmond - and pitcher Joe Ross said they would not help the team defend their World Series title over health concerns related to COVID-19.

(The story corrects final paragraph to say .. former teammate ..not.. teammate)

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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