TAMPA, Fla. - If Tony Clark has any deep thoughts regarding Alex Rodriguez and being in the line of A-Rod's lawsuit fire during his war with Major League Baseball, he's not sharing them.
The new executive director of the Players Association spoke in the Yankees' clubhouse Monday morning as part of the annual MLBPA tour to every club.
"What's great about our system,'' Clark said, "every player that has issues related to any one particular topic, there's a process in place that was fought for and struck for going back to the early '70s with respect to the arbitration process.''
That process was in the news throughout the offseason as Rodriguez, after being handed a 211-game suspension by commissioner Bud Selig last August as part of the Biogenesis PED scandal, appealed the penalty.
Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz trimmed the suspension but still banned him for the entire 2014 season, which prompted Rodriguez to add lawsuits against MLB and the MLBPA to the ones already filed against the Yankees and their doctors. Earlier this month, he dropped his lawsuits against MLB and the union.
Did Clark find it hurtful that he sued the MLBPA, not exactly seen as timid when it comes to defending its constituents?
"As a former player, I have a very unique perspective,'' said Clark, a major-leaguer from 1995-2009 and A-Rod's Yankees teammate in 2004. "I always will believe in our fraternity. Any player in that fraternity [who] feels like this organization that I have a lot of passion for and a lot of pride in, our players association, isn't defending his rights, yes, it is a concern. Having played with Alex, having played against Alex, yes, it is a concern.''
Speaking specifically of the lawsuits being dropped, Clark said: "I'm glad we find ourselves where we do today.''
Yahoo Sports reported last month that on a conference call of player representatives, they "overwhelmingly'' expressed a desire to kick A-Rod out of the union. Clark said "not once'' has he heard that during this tour, but he didn't dismiss the report.
"I'm not going to address what's on a conference call with player leadership other than to suggest this: Players are very passionate about a lot of different things,'' he said. Later, he said, "Every clubhouse I've been to, everybody's pointed in the same direction and on the same page.''
Clark declined to discuss specifics of the nearly 1 1/2-hour meeting with the Yankees, including whether A-Rod's situation came up. But Clark, who took over late last year after the death of Michael Weiner, did say one could assume it was broached.
"These meetings are state of the union meetings,'' he said. "There's a lot of topics during the offseason. Obviously, anything going on with Biogenesis and the Joint Drug Agreement is part of that conversation. You can trust if it was something that was in a headline at some point, it's something we'd discuss.''