Red Sox Notebook: Race relations, Drew Pomeranz trade and more on union head Tony Clark’s agenda

February 22, 2017

FORT MYERS — The head of baseball’s players union, Tony Clark, said yesterday he didn’t see racist commentary directed toward players disappearing anytime soon.

Clark spoke to all of the Red Sox yesterday as part of the union’s annual tour around spring training. He then held a session with the media.

“There are always opinions,” Clark said. “In the climate we’re in, the same thing that makes it great, the connection with the fans, also provides a platform for fans to voice their issues and concerns. It’s not new. It’s simply more accessible. Oftentimes those squeaky wheels get the attention. Oftentimes those that are remarkably supportive and engaged aren’t quite as loud.”

The former Sox first baseman, who is black, declined to share any experiences from his own career.

“You appreciate the opportunity and respect the opportunity to voice your opinion,” Clark said. “It’s unfortunate, some of the things players have heard and continue to hear, but it’s nothing new, considering things that any number of us have been through over the course of his careers. I would love to say that it’ll go away, but I’m hopeful that one day it will. I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

Pomeranz deal unhealthy

Clark has been highly sensitive to player medical information entering the public sphere. Drew Pomeranz’ elbow has been a public topic since last summer, when the Red Sox decided not to have a trade with the San Diego Padres rescinded because of the pitcher’s health.

“The goings-on here were between two clubs, what information was involved or not involved or offered or not offered, or input or not input, (that) led to a conversation during the course of bargaining where more checks and balances and accountability and transparency with respect to the medical information. That all happened during the course of bargaining, and we know that we are in a situation now where changes are being made to the protocols and the system itself,” Clark said. “To say it’s unfortunate would be an understatement.”

Clark didn’t reveal whether a grievance was filed.

Owner John Henry said last week that the Sox were glad to have Pomeranz but suggested the public was not aware of all the facts.

Hey commish, not so fast

The union is taking a conservative tack with potential game-play changes, and MLB is none too happy, suggesting an obstructive approach from the players’ reps.

“Unfortunately, it now appears there won’t be any meaningful change for the 2017 season,’’ commissioner Rob Manfred said while visiting spring sites in Arizona.

Said Clark in a statement issued after he left camp: “Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the commissioner’s office on these issues.”

Clark earlier in the day called the state of the game “pretty sexy.”

The collective bargaining agreement is not yet actually finalized. There’s a memorandum of understanding and now it’s being written out — with some moving parts.

“The devil’s always in the details, and you want to make sure you get it right,” Clark said.

Lesson on Hub history

Most clubs put together some sort of “team-building” itinerary in spring training. The Sox today are headed to the movies to watch “Patriots Day” for a history lesson about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

“Opened up to the players and their families,” manager John Farrell said. “To me, that’s a part of our recent history, a significant moment, and I think it’s us and the coaching staff and I think really (second baseman Dustin Pedroia) is the only player remaining from that day’s lineup in our organization. Still, it’s a big part of who we are in Boston, and I think it will be important for our guys to understand what we’ve gone to.

“We can’t play pickup basketball or things like that, but yeah, you look for opportunities, and I think this is a meaningful one as well with the history of the event.”