June 29 (Reuters) - Infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross will not help the Washington Nationals defend their World Series title after both players opted to sit out the Major League Baseball season over health concerns related to COVID-19, the team said on Monday.
"Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross have decided not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones," said Mike Rizzo, Nationals president of baseball operations and general manager in a statement.
"We are one hundred percent supportive of their decision not to play this year."
Zimmerman, a 15-year veteran and twice MLB All-Star was limited to 52 games last season due to injury hitting .257 with six home runs and 27 RBI (runs batted in).
Ross appeared in 27 games last season posting a 4-4 record with a 5.48 ERA (earned run average).
"After a great deal of thought and given my family circumstances - three young children, including a new born, and a mother at high risk - I have decided not to participate in the 2020 season," said Zimmerman in a statement on the CAA Baseball Twitter account.
MLB and its players' association agreed to a shortened 60-game 2020 season last week with training camps to open on July 1.
The shortened season is set to begin on either July 23 or 24. (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Christian Radnedge)