Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis announced Monday that he’s opting out of playing the 2020 season.
He said talking to teammate Freddie Freeman, who has tested positive for the coronavirus, helped shape his decision.
“Just hearing the way he sounded on the phone kind of opened my eyes,” he told reporters. “Freddie didn’t sound good.”
Markakis also said he didn’t like the idea of playing without fans in the stands.
“We play for the fans, and to take them out of the equation, that’s tough and I think that was kind of like the blow for me,” he said.
Markakis is the ninth major leaguer to opt out of this season, including David Price, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Joe Ross.
Markakis, who has three kids, has played the last five seasons with the Braves after opening his career with nine seasons on the Baltimore Orioles.
“I love the game,” he said. “I hate to see it the way it’s going right now, but that’s the way things have to be. … I think the decision that I’m making to sit out this year and be with my family makes it tough, but I think that’s the right decision for myself and my family.”