- The Washington Times
Thursday, July 23, 2020

In a video interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci posted by the team on social media, Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said “I fully plan on being back” in the 2021 Major League Baseball season.

The 35-year-old chose to opt out of the shortened 2020 season because of family health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci, a Nationals fan who will throw out the honorary first pitch Thursday when Washington hosts the Yankees to open the season, asked Zimmerman if he thought he would be back next year.

“Because I’d hate to not see you anymore out there, Zim!” Fauci said.

And Zimmerman, seemingly for the first time, announced that his intention was to play again.

“I’ve told my family and a bunch of my close friends that I can’t go out like this,” Zimmerman said. “The most (exciting) part of this season that I was looking forward to was being able to defend a title and see what it’s like to play as a World Series champ and have every team kinda gunning for you and trying to repeat.”

That revelation was more firm than what Zimmerman said when he announced he was opting out.

“I have not decided on my future in baseball past 2020,” Zimmerman’s statement in June said. “But this year, I’ll be staying safe at home and pulling as hard as anyone for the guys to defend our championship.”

Zimmerman joked to Fauci that he hoped the National League would keep the designated hitter, because it could extend his career not to have to play the field every day. NL teams will use a DH in all games in 2020 for the first time.

Fauci also said he respected Zimmerman’s decision to opt out of the season. Joe Ross and Welington Castillo were the other two Nationals players to skip 2020, but the rest of the team will play.

Watch the whole video here:

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