WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Hall of Famer Craig Biggio hopes increased labor tension doesn’t lead to Major League Baseball’s first work stoppage in a quarter century.
“Hopefully ownership knows and players know that nothing good’s going to come of it,” Biggio said Tuesday at Houston Astros training camp, where he will serve as a guest instructor for the next week.
Baseball’s labor contract runs through 2021. Players have increasingly complained about the second straight slow free-agent market, and their union has proposed major economic changes mid-agreement. Stars Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel remain unsigned with spring training underway.
During his 20-year career with the Astros, Biggio was part of the 32-day lockout during spring training in 1990 that led to the season starting a week late and the 7½-month strike in 1994-95 that caused the first cancellation of the World Series in nine decades.
“Hopefully calmer heads prevail when they get into these conversations and negotiations and you don’t ever have something like what happened to us when we lost the World Series, because that was probably the worst thing that could ever happen,” Biggio said.
Among former Astros, utilityman Marwin Gonzalez and designated hitter Evan Gattis also remain unsigned. They teamed with Keuchel to help Houston win its first World Series title in 2017.
“You want to be with a team,” Biggio said. “You want to be somewhere and you want to be part of the chemistry and see who your teammates are and stuff like that. Hopefully the guys that aren’t with a team yet get a team quickly.”
Second baseman Jose Altuve (knee) and third baseman Alex Bregman (elbow) reported to spring training following offseason surgery. Shortstop Carlos Correa (back) and outfielder George Springer (thumb) also are healthier than they were at the end of last season.
“Altuve, Correa, Bregman, the guys that are coming back that we’re just going to gently ease into the daily schedule, are all doing well,” manager A.J. Hinch said.
Bregman this week fielded balls and threw across the diamond on consecutive days for the first time since surgery. The 2018 All-Star game MVP has taken batting practice in a cage but has not faced pitchers on a field. He is not expected to play in a spring training game until mid-March.
“I’ve got a long way to go with my swing right now,” Bregman said. “Other than that, my body feels great, which is most important right now.”
Bregman expects to be on the field when the Astros open March 28 at Tampa Bay.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Bregman said. “I might be ready for tonight.”