DENVER — Ian is out.
The Rockies didn't see this one coming. On the same day general manager Jeff Bridich said "at this point we expect everyone to be there" for the Rockies and Major League Baseball's belated season, highly paid outfielder Ian Desmond announced he has chosen to not play in 2020.
In a post on his Instagram account, Desmond made references both to the coronavirus pandemic and social equality as his reasoning.
"If baseball is America's pastime, maybe it's never been a more fitting one than right now," Desmond said.
Desmond has played in 95, 160 and 140 games in three seasons with the Rockies. Last season he hit .255 and 20 home runs with an OPS of .788, fifth on the team. He's the only Rockies player so far to say he won't play in 2020.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I am not comfortably taking," Desmond wrote.
Desmond also suggested his well-publicized struggles with the Rockies could be the result of how the club itself has approached his time here.
"It's no coincidence that some of my best years came when I played under Davey Johnson, whose No. 1 line to me was, 'Desi, go out there and express yourself.' If, in other years, I'd just allowed myself to be who I was — to play free and the way I was born to play, would I have been better?" he said.
"If we didn't force Black Americans into white America's box, think of how much we could thrive."
Desmond signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Rockies. Based on the financial guidelines for the 60-game schedule, he would forfeit roughly $5.5 million for sitting out this season. Desmond said he will spend the time, instead, in his hometown with his family while working with Sarasota (Fla.) youth baseball.
Bridich struck a mindful tone Monday while taking questions from media on the pandemic, pro baseball's start and the uncertainties involved.
“I think you guys are going to get sick and tired of hearing, ‘We’re taking this day-by-day,'" Bridich said.
In the case of Desmond opting out of the 2020 season, baseball is operating hour-by-hour.