Former Virginia baseball star Ryan Zimmerman has opted not to play the 2020 MLB season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Virginia baseball star and World Series champion Ryan Zimmerman announced Monday that he will opt out of playing the 2020 Major League Baseball season.

Zimmerman hinted at this possibility in a recent diary entry he wrote for the The Associated Press.

Given the health risks associated with COVID-19, he decided it would be best for him to skip the shortened 2020 season.

“After a great deal of thought and given my family circumstances — three young children, including a newborn, and a mother at high risk — I have decided not to participate in the 2020 season,” Zimmerman wrote in a statement.

While Zimmerman himself might not carry additional risk should he contract the virus, the long-term health effects of the virus are still unclear, and he has family members who could suffer greatly if he brings the virus home. The potential health impact on loved ones is something players consider when trying to determine whether to play or sit out the 2020 season.

“Everyone knows how much it means to me to be part of a team, and I will miss that camaraderie dearly this year,” Zimmerman said. “Of course I would love to pursue back-to-back titles. I cannot speak for anyone else, but given the unusual nature of the season, this is the best decision for me and my family, and I truly appreciate the organization’s understanding and support.”

Joe Ross, another member of the Nationals, also announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season Monday.

“We are one hundred percent supportive of their decision to not play this year,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “We will miss their presence in the clubhouse and their contributions on the field.”

Zimmerman has played 1,689 games for the Nationals across his 15-season career. He’s smashed 270 home runs and drove in 1,015 runs.

The first and third baseman was in Washington when the Nationals were subpar, and he’s remained around as the Nationals reached the top of the baseball world last fall, winning the World Series. The Nationals icon says the announcement does not signal the end of his career, though.

“To be clear, I am not retiring at this time,” Zimmerman said. “I have not decided on my future in baseball past 2020. But this year, I’ll be staying safe at home and pulling as hard as anyone for the guys to defend our championship.”

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