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Joe West is not opting out of the 2020 season

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to everyone’s favorite umpire, Joe West. He reports that even though West is considered high-risk for COVID-19, and even though he has the right to opt-out with full pay because of it, West is not opting out of the 2020 season.

West, who is 67 years-old, has a history of high blood pressure, and who is overweight, tells Rosenthal that Major League Baseball expected him to opt-out and was “taken aback” and “shocked” when he told them that he would not do so.

Partially it’s because he wants to set the all-time record for games worked. He’s 65 games of Bill Klem’s record and, if he works 2020, he can set the record early next year. Partially it’s because he’s not concerned about his health, telling Rosenthal, “If this game hasn’t gotten me by now, no virus is going to get me.” He says that he’s lost some weight and that his doctor says his heart is “as healthy as a horse’s.”

It’s also, it seems, because West is something of a COVID-19 skeptic:

“I said, ‘Look, most of these people that they’re reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with. I’ve lost 25 pounds over the winter. I’m playing golf every day in the heat. I’m fine. I’m not going to back down now.’

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths. I said, ‘I’m not going to opt out. I’m going to work. And I’m going to work until you take me off the field or I get hurt, whatever. I’m working.’”

Alrighty then.

West — whose reputation as a game arbiter is not the greatest — goes on to add that baseball needs his seniority, referring to young umps without senior umps’ guidance as being “in a boat without an oar.”

Joe West is not opting out of the 2020 season. That’s his right and his reasons are his reasons, I suppose.

Good luck, everyone.

 

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”