White Sox

MLB, players discuss health issues while money remains hurdle for 2020 season

MLB, players discuss health issues while money remains hurdle for 2020 season

After Major League Baseball’s owners approved a proposal to start the 2020 season amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Monday, negotiations between the league and the players’ union began Tuesday.

The update? Well, there’s not much of one. The fireworks that followed Monday’s approval — descriptions of the proposal as a “non-starter” with the union and union chief Tony Clark accusing the owners’ proposed revenue-sharing plan of being an attempted salary cap — segued to a day where the economic plan was not even formally submitted, according to numerous reports.

Instead, much of the day’s conversations were said to have focused on health and safety concerns from players being asked to return to work in the middle of a pandemic.

Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle laid out Monday just how many questions there are when it comes to whether Major League Baseball can guarantee the health and safety of not just the players but the massive group of people required to stage a season. In addition to the players, coaches, trainers, front office staff, stadium staff, food-service staff, hotel staff, transportation staff and the people required to broadcast games on TV would all need to be frequently tested in order to safely start the season.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the league believes it can acquire enough tests and that it wouldn’t even play without enough testing.

Meanwhile, the level of testing in the United States remains far below where medical experts say it needs to be, and the number of cases and deaths are reportedly projected to rise as a result of certain states relaxing measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

RELATED: 'Doomed to fail': 5 takeaways from MLB's proposal to play baseball in 2020

But while those health concerns are of greater importance, the financial disagreement that is expected to spark a labor battle remains the elephant in the room.

With an 82-game schedule and games being played without paying customers in the stands, baseball’s revenues are expected to significantly decline this season. Though the players agreed earlier this year to accept prorated salaries — down to roughly half of their worth in an 82-game season — the owners are looking for further concessions as a cost-cutting measure.

While the players believe the earlier agreement put the matter to bed, the owners believe the language in the agreement allows them to ask for further pay cuts.

The players were not at all receptive when news of the proposal broke Monday. But according to Heyman, the owners are saying they will not pay the prorated salaries.

Those issues are expected to be discussed more intensely in the coming days.

Fans, surely, are itching for baseball to return and fast. The proposal, subject to change depending on the evolution of the public-health situation across the country, sets a second spring training to begin in mid June and regular-season play to begin in early July. And certainly many can relate to players desiring measures in place to assure their health and the health of their families.

But the optics of millionaires and billionaires arguing over how to divide up billions of dollars while tens of thousands of Americans have died and tens of millions have lost their jobs are terrible.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean those arguments won’t happen.

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White Sox Insider Notes: Andrew Vaughn expands versatility at third base

White Sox Insider Notes: Andrew Vaughn expands versatility at third base

It’s not uncommon for baseball players to be seen working out at positions they usually don’t play in games. Heck, Jose Abreu somewhat regularly takes groundballs at shortstop.

But in the case of Andrew Vaughn – the White Sox’s No. 3 overall draft pick in 2019 – working out at third base this week, there might be something there. In fact, when Rick Renteria was asked if third base is a position Vaughn can handle, the manager immediately said, “I do.”

“He's got really good feet, his exchange is very good,” Renteria said. “He's got a very good arm. He has all the makings of being able to play that position.”

Someone jumping to major conclusions might suggest that the White Sox are grooming Vaughn to play third base this season in case Yoan Moncada, who is still absent from camp, can’t. While Vaughn having a contribution in 2020 can’t be completely ruled out, it’s important to remember that he didn’t play above High-A ball last season and isn’t being helped by the lack of a minor league season this year. He’s simply one of the high-profile prospects the White Sox are still trying to develop in camp, while also preparing for a regular season.

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“When we got (back to Chicago), the work in terms of trying to get him to have the ability to do a little bit more has come into play,” Renteria said. “So we put him over there with an understanding that we'd continue to work and be mindful obviously of what he's capable of doing. There are several of us that believe he's capable of moving around.”

Ultimately, that’s what this is about. Many within the organization believe Vaughn can be more than a first baseman and the White Sox are using this opportunity to increase his versatility.

“The worst-case scenario would be him just not doing anything,” Renteria said. “Any time you're around baseball, any time you're around the highest level of players that exist in the game, any time you're following routines, things that are helping you learn something about your skill set, it's always a plus.”

It may just be a short three-week period, but the White Sox are trying to maximize Vaughn’s time at Guaranteed Rate Field, knowing developmental time could be limited the rest of 2020. He’s very much in the team’s plans, perhaps even in the short term.

“I look at him as a baseball player. He is a young man that is very bright and that I believe would be able to make adjustments,” Renteria said. “Would anybody say he'll go hiccup free? No. But certainly don't have any lack of confidence in his ability to make a transition should he need to do it. Bare minimum, we allow him to continue to expand his flexibility and value to a ballclub.”

Moncada, Kopech updates

Not much has changed with the two high-profile players that came over in the Chris Sale trade. Neither Moncada or Michael Kopech are currently with the team in camp, but there is some hope that Moncada won’t miss a ton of time.

“Obviously Moncada will be back soon,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said during his Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.

The White Sox haven’t given an official reason for Moncada’s absence, although two unnamed players tested positive for COVID-19 during last week’s intake. Kopech is dealing with a personal issue.

“It's a fluid situation and we'll deal with it as it arises, so I can't really give you any update,” Renteria said about Kopech. “Just to know that we have the ability to have him return with us.”

First intrasquad game plan

Unlike other teams that jumped right into intrasquad games, the White Sox have eased into camp slowly, showing some patience. But that changes Thursday with the first game scheduled for 1:10 p.m. The White Sox will play four innings and the scheduled pitchers include: Steve Cishek, Aaron Bummer, Ross Detwiler, Carson Fulmer and Drew Anderson, although Renteria teased some sort of surprise.

“We got a few sides and then there's a couple guys that we might be able to add,” he said. “That may be your little surprise piece for tomorrow.”

Know this: it will be the most anticipated intrasquad game in White Sox history.



Chicago White Sox fans can order cardboard cutouts to sit in stands

Chicago White Sox fans can order cardboard cutouts to sit in stands

Diehard White Sox fans will have a new way to show their South Side pride this season.

The team announced on Wednesday that 1,500 fans will be allowed to purchase a cardboard cutout of themselves to “sit” in the stands during Sox home games.

The cutouts cost $49, with net proceeds benefiting White Sox charities. All fans need to do is submit their payment along with a photo and their contact information, and the White Sox will take care of the rest.

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If you’re unsure what makes a great cardboard cutout photo, don’t worry, the team has you covered. They published a “FANtastic Faces” submission guide to help snap the perfect pic.

Other teams, like the Oakland A’s have launched similar campaigns. And cardboard cutouts have become a staple in Korean baseball as well.

Only question now: will cardboard vendors come around with cardboard hotdogs for those cardboard cutouts?

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