Sean Manaea may not wear a mask during games after all

After attempting to wear a mask during a bullpen session, Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea may have changed his mind about wearing one during games.

With the 2020 MLB season set to be played in the shadow of the ongoing pandemic, Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea had a solution to the dangers of being on the diamond. He had planned on wearing a mask during his outings, looking to cut down any potential risks that he would face while on the mound. It was a good idea in theory.

Then Manaea put the mask to the test while on the mound during a bullpen session. Let’s just say the results were not what he wanted.

Well, it is better to discover this now than during a game or in season. Likewise, this gives him more time to experiment with different types of masks, possibly finding one that works better while he is pitching. There is going to be a good deal of trial and error as it comes to comfort and players feeling safe.

For the A’s, it will be important for Manaea to be in a comfort level on the mound. He is the de facto ace at this point, with the A’s hoping he can build on his promising return from shoulder surgery last year. In his 29.2 innings last season, he allowed just four runs on 16 hits and seven walks, striking out 30 batters.

Obviously, one cannot expect Manaea to continue at that pace throughout the entire season, regardless of how short it may be. But that does not change his importance to a rotation that has already been thinned out due to Jesus Luzardo‘s battle with COVID-19. Having Manaea healthy, and comfortable, can make a major difference this year.

That latter part is the key. Manaea understandably has some trepidation about playing this season, as do the majority of the players across the league. His original plan of wearing a mask did not have the desired results thus far, but what other options does he have at this point?

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Sean Manaea had planned on wearing a mask while pitching. Instead, his bullpen session may have forced him to change his mind.