NEW YORK (AP/KDKA) – Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says clubs will issue schedule, asks whether players can report for training by July 1.
Earlier on Monday, the executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected a proposed 60-game schedule by a 33-5 vote, daring Manfred to give a unilateral order for the regular season’s start and provoke what figures to be lengthy and costly litigation over the impact of the coronavirus on the sport.
The union’s vote was confirmed by a person familiar with the meeting who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the balloting was not made public.
The union said in a statement that the “board reaffirmed the players’ eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible.”
Spring training was suspended on March 12, two weeks ahead of scheduled openers, and the sides have reverted to the familiar financial infighting that fractured the sport in the past. An initial deal March 26 called for players to receive prorated salaries and gave Manfred power to set the schedule, but that agreement did not require MLB to play in empty ballparks.
Players refused to alter from their insistence on prorated salaries, and MLB finally agreed last week during a meeting between Manfred and union head Tony Clark.
Players are expected to file a grievance, claiming MLB violated a provision in the March agreement requiring both sides to “work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and postseason that is economically feasible” consistent with several provisions. MLB is expected to file a grievance accusing the union of negotiating in bad faith.
Arbitrator Mark Irvings would hear the case. If the union proves more games had been feasible, each game on the schedule would be worth $25 million in salary across the 30 teams.
All the while, the coronavirus upended plans of many clubs to resume training at their Florida facilities due to a rise in virus cases in the state. Twenty-nine teams intend to work out in their regular-season ballparks, with Toronto awaiting additional talks with the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments.
It is not known if any Pittsburgh Pirates players, coaches or staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
Amid the pandemic, the Pirates suspended retirement benefits for members of the baseball operations staff.
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