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Phillies’ Didi Gregorius will wear mask during games due to high-risk status

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius revealed this week that he will wear a face mask during games, citing how a kidney condition puts him in a high-risk group amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We are trying to go through the guidelines and trying to do everything we can do to stay safe,” Gregorius told reporters Wednesday, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. “So, that’s why people see me walking around with a mask on and stuff. I am keeping myself safe, wearing a mask everywhere I go. So, I have to keep it on me all the time.”

MLB policy regarding masks stipulates that wearing them is optional but not required for players. Gregorius’ chronic kidney condition — one that caused him to miss the start of the 2011 season when he was working his way up through the Cincinnati Reds’ farm system — made his decision an easy one.

Gregorius signed a one-year, $14 million contract with the Phillies in December, and he would have been allowed to skip the condensed 60-game season due to his high-risk status. However, Gregorius insists the Phillies have provided an environment that leaves him comfortable about playing.

Gregorius also found a mask that works for him, and while he wishes more players would follow his lead, he understands it’s not up to him.

“I mean, I can’t force a person to wear their mask,” Gregorius said, via MLB.com. “I’d prefer for everybody to wear it. You’ve got to get the right one, too, while you’re playing so you can breathe normal, because if you are wearing a mask and you can’t breathe, it’s going to be hard to for you to breathe through it. So get the right one. …

“This one is pretty good. It has a built-in filter and everything in it, so it feels good for me. I think wearing it will be normal for me. I am playing in it right now so I can get accustomed to it.”

It remains to be seen how many players — not to mention coaching staffs and umpires — follow Gregorius’ lead, but the veteran ballplayer’s caution is certainly understandable.