Bryce Harper backs Tampa's Snell for highlighting risks to playing during pandemic

Bryce Harper backs Tampa's Snell for highlighting risks to playing during pandemic
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Major League Baseball star Bryce Harper voiced his support for Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, who said Wednesday it wasn't worth taking the field given the risks posed by the coronavirus.

Harper, the former Washington Nationals outfielder who signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the division rival Philadelphia Phillies in 2019, told NBC Philadelphia that Snell "manned up" in his candor over concern about holding games in the near future.

“He ain’t lying. He’s speaking the truth, bro,” Harper said. “I ain’t mad at him. Somebody’s gotta say it. At least he manned up and said it. Good for him. I love Snell, the guy’s a beast. One of the best lefties in the game.”

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Snell, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2018, said the risks outweigh the benefits of playing during the pandemic.

“Y’all gotta understand, man, for me to go, for me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof. It’s a shorter season, less pay," said Snell, who signed a five-year, $50 million contract in 2019.

The league has been shut down since March, when major sports leagues across the U.S. closed their doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

MLB owners recently approved a plan that would set the season to start around July 4 in ballparks without fans, according to multiple reports. Spring training would begin in mid-June for three weeks, according to The Associated Press.

The proposal will reportedly be sent to players next week for their review.

The new season would last 82 games, roughly half the amount of games normally played.

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As a result, owners are reportedly seeking pay cuts for players. The move is also because no fans will be in the seats, leading to lower revenue.

Nolan Arenado, the Colorado Rockies third baseman who signed an eight-year, $260 million contract last year, also sided with Snell.

“I think he was being honest, just being real,” Arenado told The Athletic on Thursday.

“He made a lot of good points. There are some points he made that were true, that are facts. A lot of it gets misperceived. Trying to get the public to understand us, it’s not going to work very well in our favor," he said.

Baseball would not be the first professional sport to resume competition if it were to hold games in July.

NASCAR returns on Sunday for its first race in two months at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, while the PGA Tour is set to return in June.