Max Scherzer on MLB Lockout: 'It's over. Let's just play baseball.'

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Max Scherzer, the Mets’ new star pitcher, may have been the most prominent face of the players union fight wit...


PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Max Scherzer, the Mets’ new star pitcher, may have been the most prominent face of the players union fight with Major League Baseball club owners over a new labor contract.

He sits on a senior sub-committee of the union. He was on nine consecutive days of face-to-face negotiations last month in Jupiter, Florida., which included a 16.5-hour marathon session. And he’s spent countless hours on the phone with his league-wide counterparts, while trying to juggle fatherhood and preparing for the season.

“The X’s and the O’s of the proposals and everything, I enjoyed being on the front line for that,” Scherzer, 37, said on Saturday afternoon, the day before players were required to report to rushed and abbreviated spring training. “The hardest part was the number of phone calls I had to make and be in touch with everyone across the game trying to get this information out there.”

So how did Scherzer celebrate after the deal was approved on Thursdayending MLB-enforced lockdown?

“I drank a lot,” he said after a pause and a smile.

Scherzer was happy to enter the field with his new team. Since he lives near Jupiter, Friday was the first day Scherzer – or any player – has been allowed into his team’s facilities since the lockdown began on December 2.

He had been to the Mets’ spring training facility several times before — he played for division rival Washington Nationals for seven years — but now he was entering the local clubhouse. On Saturday, he kicked off a bullpen session with Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner watching. At a private facility the other day, Scherzer said he pitched a mock three-inning, 50-pitch game against batters.

So even though spring training will last three and a half weeks, rather than the usual six, Scherzer said he feels roughly where he would be on March 12 of a normal camp.

“I feel like I have a good chance of hitting 100 pitches on opening day,” Scherzer said, referring to the Mets’ new season opener on April 7 against the Nationals at Washington.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, said he didn’t care if he started the game or if it was Jacob deGrom, the Mets ace who won the award twice and was likely heading to a third if not for an arm injury last summer.

“He’s the reason I’m here,” said Scherzer, who signed a $130 million three-year contract with the Mets this offseason, setting an MLB record for highest average annual salary ($43.3 million per year). “I want to be here and pitch with great pitchers.”

Although they’ve never played together before, Scherzer said he spoke to deGrom, 33, a few times over the past few weeks as the negotiations gathered momentum. Scherzer said one of the side benefits of working on a contract contract was getting to know some of his new teammates — like shortstop Francisco Lindor and outfielder Brandon Nimmo — before they shared a clubhouse. . Like Scherzer, Lindor is a member of the union’s executive subcommittee. Nimmo is the union representative for the Mets.

As for the new collective agreement, Scherzer declined to discuss it in detail. When asked if the union had achieved enough of its original goals – from improving competition between teams to better pay for young players to increasing players’ share of gaming revenue – Scherzer said he could debate the pros and cons of the deal, but preferred to move on. .

“I want the fans to focus on the games and the players,” he said. “I don’t want the fans hanging on to things that we talk about in the deal. It’s over. Let’s just play baseball.

Scherzer declined to explain why he — and the seven other elected members of the union’s executive subcommittee, all veteran players with multimillion-dollar career earnings — voted no on the deal Thursday. The social pact was still approved because the sub-committee is part of a larger executive committee, which also includes the 30 team representatives. The entire squad, the majority of which are core players, voted 26-12 in favor.

Nimmo, 28, declined to explain why the Mets were one of four teams to vote against the deal. He singled out a concession the players made in order to raise the luxury tax thresholds in the new deal: installing a new fourth threshold at $60 million above base ($230 million dollars in 2022) which could limit the highest expenses. teams, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Mets, currently expected to spend a team record and $270 million at the top of MLB under billionaire owner Steven A. Cohen.

“I’m not a huge fan because it’s Steve’s tax, basically,” Nimmo said, later referring to MLB. “But it’s something they’re passionate about and wanted. It was something we weren’t totally for.

He later added, “I certainly didn’t want to stop him from spending the money he has to spend as he wishes. But in the process of making a deal, you have to concede some things.

Overall, however, Nimmo said he felt players had made progress in combating tanking and helping younger players, who were relied on more but paid relatively little. But time will tell, he said, whether the measures will improve competition between teams.

Although the relationship between MLB and the union has frayedand the dispute frustrated fans and jeopardized spring training, a full 162-game season will be played.

“These are nasty fights and that’s baseball’s business,” Scherzer said, later adding of the collective bargaining process, “It’s ugly. There’s no other way to do it. say. And so you have to say things and do things that represent all the players and fight as hard as you can. It’s just a fact. And so you have to move on and prepare to play the ball.

With the deal behind him, Scherzer said he was happy to get his life back and spend more time focusing on his new team, his three children and his wife, Erica – and less time making calls. .

“The fact that I don’t have to be on the phone anymore and I’m spending more time with my dad is a good thing,” he said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Max Scherzer on MLB Lockout: 'It's over. Let's just play baseball.'
Max Scherzer on MLB Lockout: 'It's over. Let's just play baseball.'
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