HIROSHIMA – Members of the Hiroshima Carp voiced concerns on Saturday about the wisdom of starting the season on April 24 while the coronavirus outbreak remains unchecked.
The club resumed practicing at Mazda Stadium two days after it sent players and staff home upon hearing Thursday that Hanshin Tigers pitcher Shintaro Fujinami had been tested for the virus.
Fujinami and two teammates have tested positive, casting a shadow on NPB’s current April 24 target date to begin a season that was originally supposed to start on March 20.
Kosuke Tanaka, the Carp players’ representative, said, “It’s important to move forward, but health is the No. 1 priority.”
Slugger Seiya Suzuki, who had been expected to play a key role for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said it was hard to make baseball his sole focus.
“I wonder if it’s right for pro baseball to be the only thing going on. From a motivation standpoint, it’s difficult,” he said.
While he didn’t state his opposition to the targeted opening day, first-year Carp manager Shinji Sasaoka admitted that the positive tests among the Tigers players had to be considered.
“An extremely serious situation has occurred,” he said.
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