West, 67, told MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem over the weekend that he plans to return for his 42nd season, The Athletic reported Monday. West has worked 5,310 regular-season games as an umpire and is only 65 games from tying the record set by Bill Klem.
The coronavirus has thrown all of baseball for a loop. Several players have tested positive for the virus, some have opted out for the season and others have pointed out that baseball’s testing protocol isn’t fast enough and would possibly put more of a constraint on the shortened season.
“If this game hasn’t gotten me by now, no virus is going to get me,” West told The Athletic. “I’ve weathered a bunch of storms in my life. I’ll weather another one.”
The veteran umpire said a physical revealed that his blood pressure is “slightly elevated” and he is on medication and a sleep apnea device to help combat it.
West recalled the conversation he had with Halem.
“He said, ‘according to our doctors, you’re high-risk.’ I said, ‘Look, most of these people that they’re reporting are dying are not healthy to begin with. I’ve lost 25 pounds over the winter. I’m playing golf every day in the heat. I’m fine. I’m not going to back down now,’” West said.
“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. 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.”
West vowed that he’s going to “be careful” when he’s calling games and when he’s hitting the links playing golf.
West resides in Clermont, Fla., located in Lake County. Officials there have reported more than 1,500 coronavirus cases and 23 deaths.
More than 130,000 people have died due to the coronavirus. The MLB season plans to get restarted later this month.