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King Félix opts out of MLB season, Doolittle on fence

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, left, stands next to manager David Ross, right, during baseball practice at Wrigley Field, Sunday, July 5, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Former Cy Young Award winner Félix Hernández has joined the list of major leaguers opting out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least temporarily ending the 34-year-old’s bid to revive his career.

Stars Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros said Sunday they plan to play the 60-game season scheduled to start later this month. Reliever Sean Doolittle, who helped Washington win the World Series last year, plans to play but says that if he feels uncomfortable, he’ll opt out. He also wondered if the United States has done enough to combat the pandemic to deserve a return to sports.

As baseball prepares to start its season in less than three weeks while the coronavirus continues to ravage the U.S., there is growing unease in many clubhouses. Even Mike Trout's mother weighed in on Twitter, urging Americans to wear masks as the reigning AL MVP considers his options for the season.

In Oakland, two projected members of the Athletics’ starting rotation, ace Mike Fiers and Jesus Luzardo, were not on the field for a second straight day of the reboot of spring training because of what manager Bob Melvin called a “pending” issue without elaborating, aside from saying it’s not injury-related.

Fiers was the whistleblower of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal who pitched his second career no-hitter last season. He and Luzardo were workout partners in Florida during the offseason and quarantine period.

The A’s, who have lost the AL wild-card game the last two seasons, are not confirming positive coronavirus tests.

Oakland was forced to push back its first full-squad workout because intake testing results for position players were not yet available following the July 4 holiday. The team expects to practice as a full unit Monday.

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker said Hernández decided to opt out after he participated in workouts on Friday and Saturday at Truist Park. The decision came a day after Snitker announced that four-time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, premier reliever Will Smith and two other Atlanta players tested positive for the virus.