Imagine former Cubs manager Joe Maddon peering down on the field from the press box, barking instructions into a headset like an offensive coordinator.
Super agent Scott Boras suspects we might not have to imagine such a sight for much longer. As Major League Baseball and its players union discuss a plan to return to play, such precautions for those with an elevated risk of serious illness from COVID-19 could become a reality.
“We can have programs for those that are in their 60s or 70s,” Boras told David Kaplan Thursday in an interview for SportsTalk Live. “They might have a communication measure that is more distanced and more isolated than the ones who are 15 years younger and in their 50s.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people 65 years and older, and those with underlying medical conditions, are considered at high risk.
Now the Angels manager, 66-year-old Maddon qualifies. But on the Cubs Talk Podcast two weeks ago, Maddon said he wasn’t concerned about returning to the ballpark, thanks in part to a consistent workout regimen and his focus on nutrition.
“I want to believe if I were to contract it, I’d be able to fight it off,” Maddon said. “That’s the premise I’m working from. So, I don’t necessarily worry about it. I have a faith that I’m doing the right things leading into it.”
Boras discussed the possibility of managers coaching from their offices or the press box, but he also predicted extra precautions beyond that group.
“There may be some umpires that can’t call balls and strikes,” he said, “and the reason is they need to be more distanced, they need to be on the bases.”
In a separate interview with NBC Sports Chicago, Boras expressed concern for older executives and scouts.
Boras himself is 67 years old and has undergone prostate cancer surgery and heart surgery. But he emphasized the importance of gauging a person’s health and safety needs on a case-by-case basis.
His prior health concerns have made him hyper aware of his physical wellbeing. With no underlying conditions and positive input from doctors, Boras said he believes his own health risks are minimal.
“We all need to talk to our medical professionals,” he said on SportsTalk Live. “We all need to take a close look because this virus is going to be with us for a while.”
Gordon Wittenmyer contributed to the reporting of this story.
Watch David Kaplan's interview with Scott Boras on Thursday's edition of SportsTalk Live, airing at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago.