FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Major League Players Association took note when Byron Buxton wasn’t called up by the Twins last September, the union’s executive director, Tony Clark, said Friday.
Whether or not that decision was made in order to keep Buxton from reaching free agency a year earlier than he can now, Clark made it clear the union hopes to address such suspicions when MLB and the union meet this summer to discuss possible changes to the sport’s collective bargaining agreement.
“Players having their service-time manipulated isn’t new,” Clark said. “If you’ve earned the right to be on the field, then you should be on the field. We think it’s beneficial to have a conversation about how to lessen that as a topic of conversation.”
Clark, along with several other union representatives including former Twins Dave Winfield and Kevin Slowey, finished his tour of all 30 major league camps with his stop at Hammond Stadium. That Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel were in none of those camps them still bothers the players, he said.
Kyle Gibson, the Twins’ player representative for the second year in a row, said the players are concerned that several teams aren’t more actively seeking to compete, thus driving down the market for elite free agents like Keuchel and Kimbrel.
“You’re looking at a lot of really good players that aren’t on teams. And there are still teams that can get better and would benefit by signing players,” Gibson said. “I don’t know what the exact fix is, but there are still things both sides can do to improve the situation. Both sides want to grow the game, so I’m glad that we’re going to have those conversations.”
Clark said he was happy to see Nelson Cruz in Twins camp. “Nelson is as good as they get, and I’m not talking about him as a hitter,” Clark said. The Twins will benefit, he said, when “his leadership qualities manifest themselves in the clubhouse.”
Sano’s boot is off
The protective boot on Miguel Sano’s right foot was removed Friday, and the slugger was cleared to begin full baseball workouts Saturday.
The Twins had originally said the boot, designed to keep the cut on Sano’s heel from opening again, might remain on as long as another week, so it’s an indication that the healing has finally progressed smoothly. The third baseman is expected to miss the first month of the season.
The Twins’ final road game of the Grapefruit League season takes them to Sarasota, where Jose Berrios will face the Orioles in his final tuneup before his Opening Day start.