Players Union Counters Owners' Health Proposal; More Testing Wanted

John Hickey

The Major League Baseball Players Association came up with a counter suggestion Thursday to the 67-page initial proposal from the owners over safeguarding players’ health as MLB hopes to get baseball going in the age of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Both health and financial issues have to be resolved before baseball can move forward with a proposed June spring training and a July beginning to the regular season.

The players’ response to the initial health-and-safety protocols indicates that several more rounds of negotiation will be needed just on the health issue. The New York Post and theathletic.com both indicated that the players’ response covered many topics, including testing frequency, positive test protocol, protection of high-risk players and family members and access to pre-and post-game therapies.

That came in the wake of stories in which both owners and players talked about the difficulty of restricting players to their hotels on road trips, players pushing back against not being able to shower at the stadium and of players being denied pre- and post-game access to hydrotherapy pools used to treat aches and pains.

Talk of sanitation protocols and suggestions for the use of in-stadium medical personal were also in the counter proposal.

At the same time, the players seem anxious to have the frequency of testing increased, believing that daily testing would ease minds and would, perhaps, ease some of the other restrictions imposed while at the ballpark. As tests are not currently universally available, MLB would have to balance getting the extra tests without keeping the public at large from being denied testing.

None of these would seem to be deal-breakers. With the common goal of limiting the infection rate of COVID-19, they are negotiable.

In fact, that may be the easy part. The players have not get received the economic proposal from the owners, although that paperwork apparently will be received Friday according to USA Today. The players have made it clear they don’t want anything that looks or smells like revenue sharing, and there has been sniping aplenty on both sides.

Both sides will take financial hits with the season likely cut in half and fans unlikely to be allowed in stadiums in 2020. Balancing how that will impact each side will be the pivot around which the negotiations will be held.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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