As MLB teams prepare for a 2020 season that's less than three weeks away, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle expressed frustration Sunday with the coronavirus safety resources available to his team.
In a series of tweets, Doolittle praised teammates and medical staff for doing their part to follow protocol, but lamented the club's lack of personal protective equipment—like masks and gloves—that's added a layer of difficulty to an already tough situation.
"We need help to make this work," Doolittle tweeted. "Faster test results, PPE (gear) for high risk individuals and players/staff with high risk family members. The individual efforts have been great so far but we can’t rely solely on individuals. The efforts have to be structural as well."
His tweets came on a day when Doolittle also touched on a variety of issues he's observed with the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic. In response to a question about how some owners believe there will be fans at MLB games in some capacity this season, Doolittle remained skeptical that such an idea would be feasible.
“I do think it like brings to mind kind of where we’re at in our response to this as a country. Like we’re trying to bring baseball back during a pandemic that’s killed 130,000 people," Doolittle said, according to Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post. "We’re way worse off as a country than we were in March when we shut this thing down. And like, look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back."
On the same day Doolittle shared his thoughts on the matter, the Nationals announced two players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The White Sox and Pirates also had two positive tests, while the Cardinals had one player test positive.
"Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve, whatever you want to say," Doolittle said. "We did flatten the curve a little bit, but we didn’t use that time to do anything productive. We just opened back up for Memorial Day."
Whether or not MLB is able to successfully pull off playing the 2020 season depends, in Doolittle's view, on help from the general public.
"If they want to watch baseball, please wear a mask, social distance, keep washing your hands," Doolittle said. "We can’t just have virus fatigue and keep thinking, ‘Well, it’s been four months, we’re over it, this has been enough time, right? We’ve waited long enough, shouldn’t sports come back now?’ No, there are things we have to do in order to bring this stuff back."
As reports of positive tests from players continue to arise, and healthy players opt to sit the season out due to concerns, Doolittle expressed doubts about whether entertaining the idea of fans attending games is a wise move.
"And now you want to bring fans back? Is that safe? I don’t know. I’m not a public health expert, but we should probably just defer to them on some of these issues," Doolittle said. "So I don’t know if it’s safe or not. I really don’t know."