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Ex-Athletics Slugger McGwire Pushing for MLB Players to Wear Mask While on the Field

Former Oakland Athletics first baseman Mark McGwire told a radio show in Southern California on Monday that in makes sense to him to have players wear masks on the field and in the dugout in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Current baseball rules call for non-players to be masked, but the rules for players don't call for masks.

Mark McGwire, who rose to fame as part of the Oakland A’s powerhouse teams of the late 1980s, is going on the record as saying Major League Baseball players should have a new addition to their uniforms as the season prepares for a late July start.

All players on all 30 teams should be wearing masks while playing, says McGwire, who left his last job in baseball as bench coach for the San Diego Padres after the 2018 season. Following his retirement, he’d been batting coach for both the Cardinals and the Dodgers before joining the Padres.

“I think the players should play with them on,” McGwire said Monday on “Dodger Talk” on KLAC-AM radio. “You learn how to do it. They did it back in 1918 (during the flu pandemic), and not a lot of players got sick. A few of them did, but not a lot of them.

“Obviously, that was the flu. We’re dealing with something a lot worse than the flu.”

Under the rules put forth for the 2020 baseball season as the sport deals with playing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, players do not have to wear masks on the field. They don’t have to wear then on the field at all. However, all non-players are required to wear a mask while on the bench or in the bullpen.

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McGwire said that doesn’t go nearly far enough and that players need to go the extra step to keep themselves and their teammates healthy.

“You know you’re going to have those players walking into the clubhouse not wearing a mask, and then you’re gonna have these players gonna be yelling at them, going `Wait a minute, put your mask on,’ just like you’re seeing right now out in public.”

For the general population, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call for anyone over the age of 2 to wear a mask in public and when near people who don’t live in the same household, “especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” And maintaining a six-foot distance is deemed essential.

For most players when on the field, the six-foot distance is not a problem most of the time. But the batter, catcher and umpire are going to be in closer quarters all the time, and as play on the bases occur, runners and fielders can be face-to-face, if briefly.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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