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Though he can afford to sit out coronavirus-delayed season, Mariners' Kyle Seager embraces chance to play

Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

Besides Seager, perhaps the only other Mariners player with the financial flexibility to sacrifice 60 games of prorated salary for safety is Dee Gordon, who is in the final year of a five-year, $50 million contract. With Gordon recently becoming a first-time father to a baby girl, he's joined Seager in pushing for the myriad young and inexperienced players in camp to follow the safety protocols at all times.

"It's something that a few of our veteran players are talking about a lot to their teammates," manager Scott Servais said. "Just about how they need to take it serious, because a lot of those veteran guys do have families already, and they still want to go home and see their kids and do those things."

Though they are required to wear a mask only in the clubhouse, weight room and training room and at meetings, Gordon has worn a mask -- custom made with a lightning bolt -- at all times on the field. Seager has worn his mask about 80% of the time on the field.

They made an early point to let players know that vigilance with the protocols is the only way a season will work under the circumstances, and the only way to keep their teammates and, by extension, every player's loved ones healthy and safe.

"Seag is the biggest one," outfielder Braden Bishop said. "He's got his family here with him. He talked to us (Sunday) just about how we're put in this position and we have this opportunity to try and play. We can only control so much, but what we need to control is extremely important, more so than any other year.

"So while you need to focus on getting in what you need baseball-wise to get ready to play, you also have to take into account -- 'OK, I'm going back to the hotel, and I can't do these certain things that I've been able do to in the past because it can affect 50 or 60 people.' While the percentage is pretty small, we don't want one of those serious cases to be part of our group."

 

As the team's most-tenured player, Seager treated it as a necessary responsibility, though he didn't want credit for doing it.

"It might be my responsibility to certainly bring it up and have a discussion about it and everybody talks about it," he said. "Nobody would prefer to wear masks; everybody would rather be able to go about our normal lives and do our normal things. Wearing a mask in the clubhouse is definitely strange, totally different, wearing a mask on the field is different.

"It's not something we're accustomed to doing, but ultimately it is what it is right now. If we put a mask on and we take care of our business, hopefully we can, you know, really get this thing rolling and we'll get to play some games and do our job."

On the first day of workouts, Seager wore a mask at different times on the field during drills, lowering it, adjusting it and eventually removing it out of annoyance and discomfort. But he didn't abandon it. Like a progression on a swing change, he made some changes and increased wearing it a little more with each workout. Now it remains on almost the entire time.

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