Marlins, Pirates players are worried about the Zika virus for upcoming Puerto Rico games

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The Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates are scheduled to play two games in Puerto Rico at the end of May. And now players from both teams are concerned about the Zika virus.

The virus, which can be transmitted via mosquitos, has not been transmitted in that fashion in the continental U.S., but there have been nearly 450 confirmed Zika cases contracted in Puerto Rico. The continental U.S. cases — over 350 of them — have all been tied to people traveling to places where there are outbreaks, such as Puerto Rico.

MLB and the union are talking with the players and are looking at Centers for Disease Control guidelines about how to ensure player safety and the prevention of birth defects to any children of players who may become affected. That includes guidelines about abstaining from reproductive sex for up to six months. But that’s obviously not the greatest comfort to some of the players:

“We recognize the importance of the trip,” Marlins pitcher Craig Breslow said. “But at the same time, our health and the health of our families is paramount. There are guys who are uncomfortable engaging in the lifestyle changes being recommended by the CDC,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s fair to ask of 20- to 30-year-old men who are potentially looking to start families or expand families.”

As of now, officials with Major League Baseball, the Marlins and Pirates expect the games to be played as scheduled May 30-31.

Mookie Betts could play second base in the World Series

Mookie Betts
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The Red Sox have some tough decisions to make in advance of the World Series next week; namely, what to do with some of their hottest-hitting players once the series shifts to a National League park — and National League rules. During a press conference on Saturday, manager Alex Cora said he’d be open to the idea of starting All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts at second base when the club’s regular DH, J.D. Martinez, is forced to play the outfield during away games.

The Red Sox carry home field advantage through the Fall Classic, so Games 1 and 2 will be played at Fenway Park — as well as Games 6 and 7, should those become necessary. Depending on the outcome of NLCS Game 7 later tonight, World Series Games 3 through 5 will be played at Dodger Stadium or Miller Park. That’s when Betts might take over the keystone from Ian Kinsler and Brock Holt, both of whom have shared second base duties over the course of the 2018 postseason.

The idea isn’t without merit. Betts and Martinez comprise two of the team’s top talents at the plate and, should the Red Sox need to stave off elimination in Games 4 and 5, sitting either of them doesn’t make sense. The 26-year-old Betts led the team with a staggering .346/.438/.640 batting line, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and career-best 10.4 fWAR over 614 PA, while Martinez posted some career totals of his own, slashing .330/.402/.629 with 43 home runs, a 1.031 OPS, and 5.9 fWAR in 649 PA. This wouldn’t be the first time Betts has taken reps at second, either, as he’s logged 15 games at the position over the course of his five-year career, most recently during a 4-1 win over the Yankees in August.

Whether or not Betts is considered a lock for all three games is another question, one to which Cora didn’t give a definite answer. “I don’t know, man,” the skipper told reporters Saturday. “[Betts] already played second during the regular season, so there’s always a chance, I guess.” He later added that while Betts would be taking ground balls at second, it’s part of the routine he’s maintained all year — so nothing should be read into it until a clear decision has been announced.