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Ben Zobrist provides pre-game spread for Single-A South Bend

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Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist has been away from the team since early May. It was later revealed to be because of a messy divorce. Zobrist, however, began a rehab assignment with Single-A South Bend over the weekend. He’s expected to need most or all of the month of August to get back into game shape.

Per the team’s Twitter, Zobrist provided the pre-game spread — a bunch of food from McDonald’s.

It a really nice gesture from Zobrist. You see this from time to time when well-known veterans get sent on rehab assignments in the minors. Major leaguers, with their guaranteed contracts and minimum $555,000 salaries, do a nice thing for the minor leaguers who don’t have those luxuries. Yu Darvish, for example, bought steak and lobster for South Bend on a rehab assignment last year.

It would be nice if minor leaguers didn’t have to rely on the kindness of veteran players and locals to afford to eat. Zobrist essentially subsidized the Cubs’ frugality. The Cubs — valued by Forbes at $3.1 billion earlier this year — should be paying for that spread, not one of its players. Let’s not forget that Major League Baseball lobbied to have language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 changed so that minor league players could not qualify as seasonal workers, which would mean they are not owed a minimum wage and overtime pay. With more take-home pay, minor leaguers could afford to go to grocery stores and, for example, buy the ingredients to make a salad or just buy a pre-made salad.

Due to relative cheapness and ubiquity, unhealthy fast food is a major part of minor leaguers’ diets. One would think a billion-dollar business like a major league team would want to ensure that its investments — minor league players — have the highest chance of yielding big returns by providing them healthy food options. Alas, that is not the case for most organizations.

Nationals’ major leaguers to continue offering financial assistance to minor leaguers

Sean Doolittle
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On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.

After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.

Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.

The full statement:

Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.

We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.

We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.

Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.