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Coronavirus: Braves pitcher Hernandez opts out of 2020 MLB season

Atlanta Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez has become the latest player to opt out of the 2020 season amid coronavirus concerns.

The former Cy Young Award winner participated in team workouts on Friday and Saturday at the Braves’ Truist Park before deciding on Sunday not to play. 

“Everybody told him it would be (different), but until you live it, I don’t think you know it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. 

“As tests come in and outbreaks and things like that, I think it’s just human nature to process these things as you have family members involved and children and things like that. 

“Things like that aren’t a reality until we get here and live it.”

Hernandez’s decision comes a day after four Braves tested positive for coronavirus – including four-time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman and 2019 All-Star reliever Will Smith – and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price decided not to play this year because of COVID-19. 

Also on Sunday, both the Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals announced that two players tested positive for the virus.

The 34-year-old Hernandez was attempting to revive his career with the Braves after signing a one-year minor league contract with the club in January, his last few seasons with the Seattle Mariners blighted by injuries.  

A six-time All-Star and the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner, Hernandez endured the worst season of his 15-year career in 2019, going 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts and ultimately lost a spot in the rotation. 

He has gone 169-136 with a 3.42 ERA and 2,524 strikeouts in his career, but has gone just 15-27 with a 5.42 ERA in his last three seasons while making four trips to the injured list. He had just three stints on the injured list in the first 12 seasons of his career. 

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Hernandez, however, was looking like he might earn a spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation during spring training, yielding three runs over 13 2/3 innings before MLB halted play. 

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