Big-league life: Workouts at college field, hopes for good news

Yankees star DJ LeMahieu, among a dozen pros working out at Eckerd College, is “optimistic” of a deal.
Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu takes swings during a workout Thursday at Eckerd College.
Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu takes swings during a workout Thursday at Eckerd College. [ MARC TOPKIN | Times ]
Published Feb. 24, 2022|Updated Feb. 25, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG — A half-dozen rounds of batting practice over, DJ LeMahieu had one more item on his to-do list before Thursday’s workout at Eckerd College was finished.

The Yankees star infielder headed to the outfield with a dozen other pro players to pick up the balls they had sprayed over the lush green grass. Agent Joel Wolfe, who was taking cellphone video of some of LeMahieu’s swings, joined him.

With players locked out by the owners, working out at college fields has become commonplace for major-leaguers throughout Florida and Arizona, although without the accoutrements and assistance they are used to at team facilities.

LeMahieu, the biggest name at the workout, said, like just about anyone else even peripherally connected to the game, he is hopeful an agreement can be reached soon on a new labor deal.

Related: Rays reliever Nick Anderson working out of a different kind of jam

The sides met Thursday for a fourth straight day in Jupiter but remain apart on the core financial issues. The owners have set a Monday night deadline to reach a deal or else have regular-season games start being canceled, beginning with the March 31 openers.

“I’m optimistic,” LeMahieu said. “I mean, it sounds like we’re far away. But I really don’t think we’re that far away. I mean, I don’t think we are.”

LeMahieu, while acknowledging the business of the negotiations, said losing regular-season games would be unfortunate.

“It would suck, just suck,” he said. “I trust the union. I trust our leadership among the players — I think they’ve done a really good job so far.

“In 2020 (as the sides negotiated a return to play dealing with the pandemic), it was much different. We were trying to get on the field, and we didn’t really know what was going on. It was kind of disorganized.

“I feel like going into this year,” LeMahieu continued, “the players union has done a really good job — obviously we want to get on the field and play baseball.”

LeMahieu, entering the second season of a six-year, $90 million contract, said there is no question the union is unified.

“Most definitely,” he said. “The most I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league (debuting in 2011), for sure.”

Others players of note at the workout included Pirates infielder Michael Chavis and free-agent pitcher Aaron Sanchez.

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