Lester Preaches Communication In MLB Labor Talks

Jon Lester is hopeful a deal can be reached but wants the media leaks to end.

Bruce Levine
May 23, 2020 - 2:22 pm
Categories: 

(670 The Score) As labor negotiations between MLB owners and players continue, Cubs veteran left-hander Jon Lester is preaching for improved communication between the two sides and would like the attempted public posturing through anonymous media leaks to come to an end.

Lester is hopeful an agreement over a return-to-play framework for the 2020 season can be reached soon. MLB owners at set to make an economic proposal to the players' union after the holiday weekend is over. 

"I am as guilty as anyone else on this -- you can't believe everything you hear," Lester said on Inside the Clubhouse on 670 The Score on Saturday morning. "A couple of weeks ago, we had stuff being leaked that wasn't even presented to the players yet. There is just a lot of stuff. People have a lot of time on their hands to -- I don't want to say fabricate stories -- but really try to dig and find things out, try and find possible leaks. To me, it's important to understand you can't believe every little word that is written about either side."

While the external perception has been that of friction and disagreement between owners and players in labor talks, Lester took a more moderate view and holds an optimistic outlook. 

"Both sides have been great in trying to get something going," Lester said. "I think everyone's main concern is safety. The other stuff (money), we can kind of figure out while we go. But the players, owners and doctors all agree we want to be safe. So we do not want to rush into this thing and risk people's health.

"MLB -- from the owners' side and the players' side -- is bending over backward to try and get this health side of it figured out.

"This is not just about the pandemic and a clear medically safe way back but (also) players being game ready after spring training is shortened up and getting ready for a season that fast. So I think the players and owners are focusing on health. Obviously, I think the other stuff will fall in. We can figure out the testing and so forth."

Lester is feeling good physically and has been staying in shape at his home in Atlanta by throwing at a local high school. He has also stayed in touch with his Cubs coaches and teammates.

"The biggest challenge is the unknown," he said. "We have had some phone calls with (manager David Ross) and other players. Also meetings with our pitching coach Tommy Hottovy. This is everyone's concern. But for me, I don't want to get ramped up for an unknown date and then have to turn it back down.

"It's a fine line between keeping my arm moving and playing some catch. Doing a little and enough stuff so once we get this date, I am ready to build. Once that date hits, we can say, 'Now I can go.' That has been the challenge of balancing the unknown. Every year going toward February 8, you have that date in mind in November and December when you are building up to spring training. Right now, there is no date to build toward. However, when we get there, I know our medical, training staff and coaching staff will be erring on the side of caution. There is just that fine line."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.