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Brett Gardner, James Paxton say they 'feel safe' and 'committed' to play

James Paxton of the Yankees pitches from the

James Paxton of the Yankees pitches from the mound during spring training at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

A trickle of players continue to opt out of playing in 2020 because of fears about the COVID-19 pandemic, but thus far, not one has been a Yankee.

And two prominent Yankees said Sunday that they have no hesitation about committing to play out the season, if indeed there is one.

“I am personally 100% committed,” said longtime Yankee Brett Gardner, who has two children. “I don’t think that I would be here if I wasn’t. Obviously, that’s a conversation that I’ve had with my wife and with my family over the last few weeks and months through all this, and I think that, obviously, me being here kind of speaks for itself and that I’m committed to doing everything I can and doing my part and try to make this work.”

“I wanted to play,’’ said James Paxton, who is married but does not have children.

“Health and safety obviously is very important and we needed to get to a point where we could get the protocols to a level where we felt like the risk was lessened enough to where we felt safe,” said Paxton, a member of the MLBPA’s eight-member executive subcommittee, which was intricately involved in the negotiations with MLB on various return-to-play scenarios.

“I feel like we have set up some really good protocols, and I feel safe coming in here.”

That has not been the case across the sport. A handful of players, including David Price of the Dodgers, Ian Desmond of the Rockies and Joe Ross and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals, have decided to pass on playing baseball this season.

“It’s a reality that we’ll probably have to deal with in the major leagues,” Aaron Boone said Sunday. “It’s a very personal decision for people. And I know we’ll certainly be respectful of that.

“I don’t necessarily expect anyone for us [to opt out], but if a situation does occur where somebody feels like they need to, we’ll be supportive of that as an organization.”

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