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MLBPA head Tony Clark makes annual visit to Mets camp

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League

Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Players Association, answers questions at a news conference in Phoenix last February. Credit: AP / Morry Gash

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — During an annual visit to Mets camp Wednesday from the MLB Players Association and union boss Tony Clark, veteran big leaguers Todd Frazier and Jerry Blevins saw something they usually don’t: a significant degree of interest and participation from the younger players in the room.

“Most of the young guys normally sit back and listen,” Blevins said. “There was a lot of questions being asked, which is a very positive sign.”

Added Frazier: “It was good for the younger guys coming to understand what really is going on right now and how baseball is turning out.”

The MLBPA visits each team’s major league spring training, and the particulars of the discussion are supposed to be kept private. Among the general topics were the lagging free-agent market, the unusually high number of teams perceived to be not trying to win in 2018, and the league’s pace-of-play initiatives.

“The tone of the meeting was business,” Michael Conforto said. “It definitely was a little bit different this year than it was last year and the year before.”

The free-agent/tanking issues specifically have stoked the anxieties of Clark and the players. Clubs are largely staying away from giving big-money deals to players over 30, but baseball’s compensation system is set up in such a way that players don’t get their big money until around that age.

Teams have been so slow to sign free agents — with many of the biggest names still out there — that the union set up a spring training camp in Bradenton for unemployed players. That will stay open only through Friday, Clark said.

The Mets benefited from the depressed market, signing Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39-million contract in mid-January and Frazier to a two-year, $17-million deal in early February.

Frazier’s message to his more junior teammates: Start paying attention. “It’s one of those things where these guys need to understand, don’t spend your money on useless stuff. You never know what can happen,” Frazier said. “In five years, this might happen to them. There could be lockouts, there could be strikes, there could be anything.”

Rosario still out

Shortstop Amed Rosario clarified his recent left leg pain: He initially had a knee issue, but as that got worked on and went away, his groin started to feel sore.

He expects to be back in a couple of days, he said. But he was not on any of the travel rosters for Thursday-Saturday.

“It can be concerning a little bit,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Is it going to hold him out for the start of the season? Four days probably wouldn’t. But yeah, it’s valuable reps and playing time that [Rosario is] missing. It’s a concern.”

Extra bases

Jacob deGrom will make his Grapefruit League debut Sunday against the Astros at First Data Field. A bout of lower back tightness has delayed his ramping-up activities . . . Righthander Anthony Swarzak (left calf strain) threw a successful bullpen session. He has not tried running yet and does not know when he’ll get into a game . . . Rain abbreviated the Mets’ workout with position players limiting their activity to stuff off the slippery fields . . . Matt Harvey will pitch against the Yankees in Tampa Saturday. Tim Tebow will also make the trip.

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