Earlier: Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Joe Ross is reportedly the next MLB player to opt out of the shortened 2020 season.
Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed starter Mike Leake announced earlier today that he would be sitting out, becoming the first MLB player to make that declaration. In a statement, Leake's agent said the veteran pitcher "took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family."
Thus far, no reasons has been given for Ross' decision, but it stands to reason it is related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He won't be the last player to stay home in the coming months.
Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic first reported news of Ross opting out a short time ago.
Ross has appeared in 78 games for the Nationals over the last five seasons, making 57 starts. He was primarily a reliever in 2019, going 4-4 with a 5.48 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 27 games (nine starts).
Ross pitched twice in the 2019 World Series, throwing two innings of shutout relief in a Game 3 loss before being starting Game 5. That night, Ross lasted five innings, surrendering four earned runs on five hits (two home runs), two walks and one strikeout in a 7-1 loss.
Spring training for the 2020 MLB season is set to resume on July 1. The season will get underway the weekend of July 24-26, with reports indicating the defending champion Washington Nationals could play the New York Yankees in their opening game on July 23.
Update: Ross isn't the only player from his team who won't be participating this year. Veteran slugger Ryan Zimmerman is also sitting out.
We'll keep you posted on any further news.