The St. Louis Cardinals announced Monday that hard-throwing reliever Jordan Hicks is opting out of the 2020 MLB season due to health concerns. Hicks became the 13th player to publicly opt out of the season.
Hicks, 23, has Type 1 diabetes and is also recovering from Tommy John surgery, a procedure he underwent in June of last year. He was expected to begin the 2020 season on the injured list. Hicks' diabetes places him in the high-risk group regarding the novel coronavirus. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a junior in high school.
Hicks made a statement about his decision in a Twitter post:
"We respect and understand Jordan's decision to opt out this season," John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, said in a statement. "We wish him well as he continues his recovery from elbow surgery, and we look forward to seeing Jordan back on the mound for the 2021 season."
In 2019, Hicks converted 14 of 15 save opportunities for St. Louis in 29 appearances. He finished the season with a 3.14 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and 11 walks over 28 2/3 innings. The righty owned the 21 fastest pitches thrown during the 2019 season, with the top pitch at 104.3 miles per hour.
Giovanny Gallegos would be the next man up to fill Hicks' spot, but he's currently experiencing coronavirus pandemic-related travel issues. Gallegos has yet to arrive at the Cardinals' summer camp while he continues to await clearance to travel to the United States from his native Mexico.
His availability for the Cardinals' July 24 season opener remains something of a question mark at the moment. That leaves either Ryan Helsley or Carlos Martinez as potential replacements for Gallegos. Andrew Miller could also potentially see some save opportunities this season.
High-risk would include people who have heart disease, lung disease, cancer, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Although coronavirus is considered a respiratory illness, the disease can impact a number of systems and organs. That includes possible effects on the heart and the brain. More than 130,000 Americans have died this year from COVID-19.