Sport

MLB players have their own version of spring training

MESA, Arizona — At this sprawling desert sports complex, dozens of MLB players have gathered to host their own version of spring training while awaiting lockout completion.

For participants, most of whom usually attend spring camp in Arizona or live in the area, it’s an opportunity to host bullpen sessions or practice batting with friends and acquaintances. Team logos are nowhere to be found. Black t-shirts and hats that read “MLB Players” will be worn, adding another layer of cohesion to a group that has vowed to stay united in the negotiations for a new collective agreement.

Mixed workouts of this magnitude are a new experience for everyone.

“Throughout the season, you guys are something like heartfelt enemies,” Dodgers helper Blake Treinen said Tuesday. “It’s kinda cool here – [Kevin] Plawecki just caught me and I played against him in DC for two years and it was kind of interesting to develop that dynamic.

Bell Bank Park, a 320-acre site, bills itself as the largest sports and entertainment facility in North America. Within this complex, players can train and are barely noticed by those who arrive to take part in a variety of sporting activities.

Plawecki, the former Mets catcher, lives nearby and jumped at the opportunity to train with a larger group. Like many others, he chooses which days he will attend.

It’s not spring training for these players, but it’s an opportunity to stay fresh and await a hopefully relatively quick summons to disperse and start four weeks in camp.

“We’re not asking for the moon,” said Giants outfielder Austin Slater. “We’re only asking for a fair deal and that’s something the boys have been able to rally around.”

Players were reluctant to discuss the basics of collective bargaining as MLB and union officials met in New York in hopes of staving off regular-season cancellations. Last week, Commissioner Rob Manfred said the first two series of the regular season had been canceled, but in recent negotiations MLB reportedly offered a way to keep the 162-game schedule intact.

“The game just has to happen on the field, you have to be seen and play in front of the fans,” said Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks. “That’s what the game is about. This is how the game grows. This is how children see you. It reminds me of the COVID season [in 2020]how awful that was. You shouldn’t miss months of baseball for the kids and everyone else.”

While signing autographs for some fans who ventured into the training area, Treinen said he was concerned about the possibility of patrons avoiding the stadium once the lockdown is over.

“You feel for the fans,” said Treinen. “I’ve been a fan longer than a player so I put myself in their shoes and know that people can judge and say the money factor from either side. But we just want fans in the stands and we want this season to happen because we miss them. Fans make baseball great. We’re just trying to do what’s right for those in front of us.”

Major League Baseball vice president Morgan Sword and other MLB executives Haren exit the midtown players' union offices on Tuesday afternoon. While representatives from the owners and players met to try to reach a working agreement, the players in Mesa, Ariz. (including Dodgers backup Blake Treinen, top inset, and Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki), met to train together to ensure when a deal is reached they are prepared and ready to go.
Major League Baseball Vice President Patrick Houlihan (left) and Assistant Commissioner Dan Haren exit the Midtown players’ union offices Tuesday afternoon. While representatives from the owners and players met to try to reach a working agreement, the players in Mesa, Ariz. (including Dodgers aide Blake Treinen, top inset, and Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki) met to collectively train to ensure when a deal is struck they are prepared and ready to go.
NY Post: Charles Wenzelberg (2); AP

This generation of players remembers little (if at all) the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series and continued the following season. The fans’ disillusionment was high and they needed the home barrage that followed – highlighted by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s record-breaking run in 1998 – to revive the game.

“I don’t think we’re going to have another steroid era to save the game,” Slater said.

Treinen expressed concern about possible rule changes that could lead to the introduction of a pitch clock.

“If you put pitchers out there and they’re more concerned with a clock than execution and trying to do their best for a team that has invested a lot in them, you could have a quality of play that could hurt,” said trienes.

“We have to be very careful about what kind of rules we change in this game because there are a lot of purists who find their way out of baseball and if you don’t have a passionate fan base of purists who are the most passionate and then you try , targeting people who aren’t necessarily baseball fans, but you’re trying to get more eyes on the game, you don’t really have a strong following.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/08/mlb-players-having-their-own-version-of-spring-training/ MLB players have their own version of spring training

JOE HERNANDEZ

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