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Red Sox players get update on key issues from MLBPA boss Tony Clark

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  February 22, 2014 11:31 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Good morning from Jet Blue Park.

There's an open house taking place at Fenway South Saturday where fans can roam around the park and take in the facility and actually get autographs after the players are through with their workouts.

Players took the field much later than usual today about 10:45 a.m as a result of the Major League Players Association giving its annual state of the union address. This year, former Red Sox first baseman Tony Clark has taken the reins as the new executive director, taking over from the late Michael Weiner, who passed away Nov. 21 after a battle with brain cancer.

Clark spoke to the players about any issues concerning them. One issue on the forefront is re-opening the discussion about free-agent compensation, which has affected a few players who have not yet signed because teams are unwilling to part with draft picks, particularly first-rounders, if they sign a free-agent who was made a qualifying offer by his old team.

That has subsided a tad the past few days as the Baltimore Orioles have signed both Ubaldo Jimenez and appear to be on the verge of signing Nelson Cruz, leaving Ervin Santana and and Stephen Drew as the only major free-agents still out there.

"We weren't exactly sure what was happening in the first year," Clark said. "We have a better understanding of what's happening this year. The value clubs are putting on those draft picks are definitely the issue and we have to explore how we can insure that teams can complete their teams with very qualified players without worrying about the draft picks."

Clark said that there's a legal procedure that would have to take place to re-open the basic agreement or adjust it.

The other major focus is the advent of a new catcher collision rule.

There's growing negativity among baseball people that protecting catchers may put the base-runner at risk and thus robbing Peter to pay Paul.

"The home plate collision ... it's more than just catchers involved. We've got to be very careful that we're not affecting the integrity of the game itself. We want to make sure runners and catcher are protected," Clark said. "But we need to crawl before we can walk here. We're all for the catcher and runner being protected but in a way that the game isn't radically changed."

In other camp news:

Newly acquired pitcher Chris Capuano was at the facility having his physical. He was expected to work out if all went well. Capuano had some calf issues last season with the Dodgers.

There was no further word on Stephen Drew except he is working out at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami under the supervision of former Red Sox coach Alex Ochoa.

The Red Sox still appear to have the best chance of landing him.

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, along with former NESN analyst and Red Sox psychologist Bob Tewksbury, were also on hand as part of Clark's team. Former major leaguer Bobby Bonilla and Jose Cruz Jr. were also with them.

Will Middlebrooks and Craig Breslow are currently the Red Sox' MLBPA player reps, but that could change when a formal vote is cast soon.

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