Veteran umpire Joe West has every intention to work this season despite being classified as high risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a story published Tuesday, the 67-year-old West told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that MLB officials told him he could stay home this season and still receive full pay and service time. But the longest-serving umpire in league history instead plans to be on the field for his 42nd season.
"If this game hasn't gotten me by now, no virus is going to get me," West said to The Athletic. "I've weathered a bunch of storms in my life. I'll weather another one."
West said he feels healthy and has overcome previous issues with elevated blood pressure. He said he has lost 25 pounds since last season and has stayed active by playing golf near his Florida home.
The longtime umpire also defied health experts and the Centers for Disease Control by casting doubts on the virus' threat level.
"I don't believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths. I said, 'I'm not going to opt out. I'm going to work. And I'm going to work until you take me off the field or I get hurt, whatever. I'm working.'"
According to the MLB Umpires Association, West has worked 5,194 career games, which ranks second all-time behind Bill Klem's 5,375 games.
--Field Level Media