MLB spring training fails to start on time for first time since 1995

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For the first time since 1995, Major League Baseball spring training will be delayed.

On Wednesday, all 30 MLB teams were slated to report to spring training sites in Florida and Arizona. However, due to the lockout, fields and facilities were empty.

The sport's second-longest work stoppage has reached 77 days as MLB owners and the players association haggle over an expired Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, the haggling has been infrequent. There have been just five negotiating sessions on core economics since the lockout started Dec. 1: a Zoom gathering on Jan. 13 followed by in-person meetings on Jan. 24-25 and Feb. 1 and 12.

"They can lift the lockout whenever they want," Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly said during an interview earlier this month at the TRISTAR Collectors Show. "We want to play - that's my personal opinion, and that's what I want to do. I want to play. Fans want to see us play, and we want to be out there. But we have to hold our ground and do what we need to do and listen to the union."

Players have demanded significant change, angered that payrolls were $4.05 billion last year, down 4.6% from their record high of just under $4.25 billion in 2017, the first year of the just-expired labor contract.

The union has asked for salary arbitration eligibility to be expanded to two years of major league service, its level from 1974-86, proposed a decrease in revenue sharing and wants new methods for top young players to be credited with additional service time, which the union says would address its allegations of service time manipulation.

Management has said it won't consider cutting revenue sharing or expanding arbitration. The sides are far apart on minimum salaries, the amount of a proposed bonus pool for young stars, and luxury tax thresholds and rates.

MLB doesn't plan to announce a disruption to spring training until Feb. 26 exhibition openers can't be played.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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