Which teams will benefit from Major League Baseball's shortened 60-game schedule?
J.D. Martinez thinks there's a pretty straightforward answer.
"It’s crazy to say it but I have a feeling that this season is going to come down to what team can stay healthiest and what team can stay corona-free," the Boston Red Sox designated hitter told reporters in a video conference Sunday, via MassLive.com.
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Martinez is among many players aware of how the coronavirus pandemic could impact the season. A handful of players and team staffers already have tested positive for COVID-19 while returning to their facilities for training camp, and players who test positive during the season won't be able to return to their teams until they pass several health tests.
"One blow to a team with corona and you knock out two or three of the star players," Martinez said. "I mean, anything can happen in this league. You never know.
" ... I think the Red Sox have done a good job of keeping us aware of that and keeping us safe, giving us the best opportunity to not get corona. And everybody on our team is on board with it.”
Two Red Sox players -- pitchers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor -- tested positive for COVID-19 last week and are quarantining, while left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is awaiting the results of his test.
Martinez, who has asthma, admitted he's fearful of contracting the virus and has avoided group hitting sessions with his teammates.
"It definitely changes it. I’ve already had a couple guys ask me, ‘When can you come to the cage?' I’m like, ‘I can’t. They won’t let me,' " Martinez said. "I’m asthmatic. I’m very scared of everything. But it definitely changes the role. I try to do my best."
Martinez said his "love for the game" will outweigh that fear once he starts playing games. But the 32-year-old is right in that the 2020 MLB season -- which is set to begin July 23 and 24 despite COVID-19 cases spiking in a number of states -- could turn into a war of attrition.
"I want to say I’m confident (in MLB making it through the whole season)," Martinez said. “But the way 2020 has been, you never know what’s going to happen anymore.
"It’s crazy to think that way but we’re all definitely going to do our best to stay as healthy as we can and keep this going. I think this is big for the country, for our fans, for everyone who lives here."