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Human Interest

Players aren’t the only ones opting out of the Major League Baseball restart.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, 11 MLB umpires have decided to not participate in the 2020 COVID-shortened season. Some of those decisions were reportedly related to ill family members.

Names of the specific umpires have not yet been released. The announcement comes nine days before baseball is set to begin its 2020 season.

Earlier this week, long-time umpire Joe West made headlines when he downplayed the Coronavirus and said he wasn’t afraid to return to the diamond despite being high-risk to contract the virus. The MLB Umpires Union later issued a statement disavowing West’s comments and stating they “fully support” baseball’s safety protocols.

The statement also reads, in part, “Regardless of any umpire’s personal views, when we report for a resumed spring training and 2020 season, we will conduct ourselves as professionals and in accordance with the health and safety protocol.”

Major League Baseball operates 19 crews of umpires with four officials in each crew. The 11 opting out represent 14.5 percent of the total umpiring workforce. In the past, baseball has used specially qualified umpires from the AAA level to fill gaps when needed.