Justin Verlander
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Lineups for ALCS Game 1

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The American League Championship Series is about to kick off at Fenway Park this evening, and both the Astros and Red Sox will stick with tried-and-true lineups as they look to gain an early lead in the series. The Astros are 2-1 at Fenway Park this year and have managed to score at least five runs in every game they’ve played on Boston’s turf, though Game 1 starter Justin Verlander hasn’t stepped foot in Fenway since June 2017 (and got torched in an 11-3 loss when he did so).

Here are the lineups:

Astros

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
3. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
5. Tyler White (R) DH
6. Marwin Gonzalez (S) LF
7. Carlos Correa (R) SS
8. Martin Maldonado (R) C
9. Josh Reddick (L) RF

Justin Verlander RHP

The Astros made a few key roster changes in advance of the ALCS. Right-handed reliever Will Harris and rookie outfielder Myles Straw were removed from the postseason roster and replaced by right-handers Joe Smith and Hector Rondon. Smith and Rondon are just two of five pitchers who have yet to be utilized in the season, and it’s expected that manager A.J. Hinch will utilize a fresh batch of arms — including relievers Josh James and Tony Sipp and right-handed starter Charlie Morton — as the team prepares to go up against the AL East champs this weekend.

For Game 1, Tyler White will step into the DH role once again. Maldonado is set up behind the plate for Verlander’s start, and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart notes that he’ll likely be pegged for Gerrit Cole‘s start as well, while Brian McCann is expected to catch Dallas Keuchel.

Red Sox

1. Mookie Betts (R) RF
2. Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
3. J.D. Martinez (R) DH
4. Xander Bogaerts (R) SS
5. Steve Pearce (R) 1B
6. Brock Holt (L) 2B
7. Eduardo Núñez (R) 3B
8. Jackie Bradley, Jr. (L) CF
9. Sandy Leon (S) C

Chris Sale LHP

The Red Sox will roll out the same roster they used during the ALDS, with the exception of right-hander Steven Wright, who was removed from the postseason roster last Saturday with a knee injury and is now ineligible to pitch in the ALCS. He will continue to be replaced by right-hander Heath Hembree. First baseman Mitch Moreland, meanwhile, will rejoin the team after leaving Game 2 of the Division series with a bout of right hamstring tightness, though he’s likely to see limited playing time off the bench until he makes a full recovery.

On Saturday, the Red Sox shifted the heart of the order from Pearce-Martinez-Bogaerts to Martinez-Bogaerts-Pearce. Holt will take over for Ian Kinsler at second base, while Sandy Leon will catch Sale’s first start of the ALCS.

Game 1 is scheduled to begin at 8:09 PM EDT.

 

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: