CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on the All-Star Game (all times local):
In the middle of a Major League Baseball season that has seen home runs being hit at a record pace, union head Tony Clark says, "I believe that the ball suddenly changed and I don't know why."
Batters have hit 3,691 homers in 1,345 games, on pace to hit 6,669 over the full season. That would be 19% above last year's 5,558 and 9% over the record 6,105 hit in 2017.
AL All-Star starter Justin Verlander was been among the players most vocal in claiming the ball has changed. Clark tells the Baseball Writers' Association of America the union has received data but no explanations.
Clark and Verlander have questioned whether Major League Baseball has more input into the ball since Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. Inc., which manufactures the ball, was purchased last year by Seidler Equity Partners. Peter Seidler, the San Diego Padres general partner, has chief oversight of all activities of Seidler Equity Partners.
The head of the baseball players' association has detailed the union's goals during collective bargaining, listing the restoration of a "competitive environment" and "meaningful free agency" as aims.
Baseball's labor contracts runs until December 2021, but the sides committed last winter to early talks. Thus far, they met once to discuss the scheduling of future meetings.
Union head Tony Clark says his members want to have "getting players something closer to their value as they are producing it," a reference to the structure that has players getting close to the minimum until they have nearly three years of major league service time, when they become eligible for salary arbitration.
He also says the union wants the "best players on the field at all times," a reference to accusations that clubs hold top prospects in the minor leagues to delay their eligibility for salary arbitration and free agency, which requires six years of service.
Clark also has said rebuilding teams that are noncompetitive hurt the industry.
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