For a 35-year-old who’s never known what it’s like to go an entire summer without baseball, the decision to give up a year of playing is never going to be an easy one. But for Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and his wife Heather, the choice to protect the health of their family became their only option as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Heather detailed her husband’s decision-making process during the months leading up to his announcement that he would be opting out of the 2020 season. The couple spent most of the summer awaiting the birth of their son, Henry. They decided to wait until after they were settled with their third child before shifting gears to baseball.
“He made his final decision pretty last-minute,” Heather said. “But there were a lot of factors weighing on us, and on him, that made us realize that there was really just the one option for us.”
Even though MLB and the players union agreed on a 108-page outline of health and safety protocols for this season, Zimmerman is far from the only player to opt out. Teammates Joe Ross and Welington Castillo are taking the year off as are former All-Stars Buster Posey, Felix Hernandez, David Price, Ian Desmond and Nick Markakis.
Though Heather said the Zimmermans are “excited to watch some baseball from home,” she admitted that it’s going to be weird for the family’s day-to-day lives not to be dependent on a baseball schedule.
“I’m not going to lie—it’s really strange. I miss baseball. He misses baseball. I've never known him not playing baseball, you know?” Heather said. “But it’s just been really nice to become this new sort of family unit that we’ve never been before.”
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