Orioles pitcher Kohl Stewart has “paused” his participation in the 2020 season, the team announced Friday. 

Stewart has type 1 diabetes and due to the heightened risk of COVID-19, has decided to step away for the season. The Orioles have removed him from the 60-player pool.

“For the time being, I have decided to pause my participation in the 2020 season,” he said in a statement. “My elevated risk of serious complications of COVID-19 due to type 1 diabetes continues to be of great concern. I am grateful to the organization, as well as my coaches and teammates, for their incredible support.”

He was a “strong” candidate to start on Sunday against the Rays, manager Brandon Hyde said Thursday. In Stewart's place, the Orioles have promoted right-handed pitcher Thomas Eshelman.

Stewart pitched in nine games last season with the Twins and posted an ERA of 6.39 in two starts and 25 ⅓ innings pitched. 

Stewart is the first player in the Orioles’ organization to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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