Buster Posey, checking into summer camp at Oracle Park on Saturday, said he talked to his wife during the shutdown about opting out of the 2020 season and left open the possibility that he still might, based on coronavirus developments in San Francisco and elsewhere in the country.
“I definitely think there’s still some reservation on my end as well,” Posey said after he participated in his first workout. “I want to see how things progress here the next couple of weeks. It would be a little bit maybe naive or silly not to gauge what’s going on around you, not only what’s going on here, but what’s happening in different parts of the country.
“I’m going to watch what’s going on and keep communicating with my wife. … I’d be surprised if you asked any ballplayer and he would give you a hard, ‘No way I’m going to opt out, ever’ answer.”
Players who have a pre-existing health condition will be paid if they opt out, but assuming Posey is not vulnerable and opts out he would lose his pro-rated 2020 salary, about $8 million.
Several players have opted out, including Giants non-roster invitee Tyson Ross. That list gained a big name Saturday when Dodgers starter David Price said he would not play in 2020.
Manager Gabe Kapler said he had a “nice conversation” with Posey and will support any decision his catcher makes.
“He’s such a great example of speaking openly where he stands on things,” Kapler said. “This is a very personal decision.”
The same goes for other Giants who don’t have Posey’s stature, Kapler said, adding, “We do have some thoughtful players thinking about their families right now. I respect their positions on that — I’m willing to talk about that every day as a result.”
Posey spent the shutdown in the Bay Area and watched how local authorities and citizens, and those outside of California, have responded to the pandemic. He is keenly aware that some parts of the country are being more strict than others with distancing and masks.
That’s important because the Giants will go on the road for 30 games in hot spots such as Southern California, Arizona and Texas.
“You drive into the city of San Francisco and nearly every person you see has a mask on,” he said. “I know it’s not the same in all parts of the country, but that’s a perfect example of the way things have gone.
“People are not necessarily seeing eye to eye on how this disease is going to progress and has progressed. Ultimately, I still feel there are unknowns, and hopefully we’ll have more solid answers here as the medicine makes advances.”
As a catcher, Posey has more cause for concern. Rules are in place to limit how close players can stand to one another during games when they are not forced to converge during a play, but catchers have to be sandwiched between a hitter and umpire.
While spitting is outlawed, that will be a hard habit to break, and even if players can manage it they won’t be wearing masks on the field in case they sneeze or even talk.
Posey’s presence at the ballpark indicates he is comfortable in the training cocoon established at Oracle Park.
“I think you have to make the effort,” he said. “You take a look around at how things are going. I think we all have to be somewhat cautiously optimistic right now.”
But players will have to leave the cocoon when games begin, and that might not be as comfortable.
“It’s such a strange time,” Posey said. “I’m looking at you (reporters) wearing masks on a computer screen. ‘What are we doing?’ That’s the thought.”
Posey, asked whether he thinks there will be a 2020 season, said nothing would surprise him, be it 60 games, no games or something in between.
“I just think there’s no way we could give a hard-line answer to what this is going to look like a week from now, much less two months from now,” he said.