Baseball’s strangest spring-training camp opened Wednesday in Bradenton, Fla. — to literally no fanfare.
To counter the unusually quiet MLB offseason — overshadowed by some union complaints of collusion by baseball owners to keep costs down this winter — the Major League Baseball Players Association kicked off a series of organized workouts for unsigned players.
According to reports, about 15-20 players attended on Day One of the MLBPA workouts. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that players at the IMG campus are dubbing it “Camp Jobless.”
The camp site, with workouts being run by former Houston Astros manager Bo Porter, is closed to media, agents and even prospective teams, which led to a team executive (Associated Press reported the person to be a Kansas City Royals scout) being booted from the premises.
According to USA Today, Porter, characterized the incident as a misunderstanding and clarified that the nature of the camp is not as a showcase for players.
“I made this point to the players,” Porter said, “We will not stop a team that wants to specifically look at a player. If you’re coming for a purpose, and are going to help the process of having one of these guys signed, then that wish will be accommodated.”
Players union head Tony Clark, who played 15 seasons in the majors, said that at least 15 more players are expected to join their fellow free agents at the camp later this week.
“When you have the type of numbers we’ve had of unsigned guys at this juncture, that’s cause for concern,” Clark said. “It’s cause for concern from our end and it’s cause for concern from an industry standpoint.”
USA Today reported that attendees include relievers Tyler Clippard and Tom Gorzelanny, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, outfielders Nolan Reimold and Alejandro de Aza, and infielder Chris Johnson.
High-profile agent Scott Boras’ most prominent, unsigned clients — Jake Arrieta, J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer — were not in attendance.
–Field Level Media