By Chris Yow
Major League Baseball owners and the players’ association are still squabbling over contract negotiations which could lead to a partial 2020 season, but many players — like Spring Hill’s Zach King — have to be ready to play as soon as instructed.
King, who pitched for Miami Marlins’ Gulf Coast (Rookie) League affiliate last summer after his 13th-round selection out of Vanderbilt, first reported to spring training with pitchers and catchers on Feb. 20. He’s been in contact with different coaches throughout the shutdown, and is simply waiting for the call to go back.
For minor league players, there won’t likely be a season, but King said the Marlins are hoping to be able to bring in their prospects for some camp-like workouts. Until then, King said he’s been working out at a facility in Brentwood, allowing him to condition and pitch to stay sharp. Last summer, the ex-Commodore pitched in six games for the GCL Marlins, totaling a 2-0 record with a 1.65 earned run average.
“We don’t know anything specific,” said King, the first Raider product to be drafted. “We were just told to be ready when they call us.”
Owners have pitched a 50/50 revenue split with players, though players are reluctant to accept a deal that is vastly different than the one agreed upon in March, citing player safety and compensation cuts.
“Over the last 48 hours, it really feels like we’re getting some stuff done,” San Diego Padres catcher and union representative Austin Hedges told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I really do believe we’re to a point where a decision will be made. … I feel very confident it’s going to happen.”
King isn’t worried about that, as he’s almost certain there won’t be any kind of minor league season. He’s simply working on his craft, and using this year to improve.
“I can’t control anything other than how I react to this situation,” he said. “So, I am going to work hard and try to get better every day.”
While he’s not working on his breaking ball, King is just trying not to lose a ball. Recently picking up golf for a hobby, he says he’s been betting the over/under on how many golf balls he will lose in a round.
“I’ve been going to Walmart before every round and buying a 24-pack of balls,” he laughed. “I set a number at the beginning of the round, and if I lose less than that number, I consider it a success.”