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MLB cancels spring training games through March 4, will meet with MLBPA every day next week

The Red Sox were scheduled to play Northeastern at JetBlue Park on Feb. 25.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

After MLB said Friday that it had no choice but to postpone the start to spring training, the players’ union derided the notion of being forced into the move as a “false” premise.

“MLB announced today that it ‘must’ postpone the start of spring training games,” read a statement from the MLBPA. “This is false. Nothing requires the league to delay the start of spring training, much like nothing required the league’s decision to implement the lockout in the first place. Despite these decisions by the league, Players remain committed to the process.”

MLB locked out the players on Dec. 2, a tactical maneuver meant in part to add urgency to negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement.

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The sides have met face-to-face six times, including one Zoom gathering. But with the slow pace, there is little to show for it.

That’s led to the growing threat not only to the remainder of the spring training games but also to the start of the regular season.

The announcement means the Red Sox lose nine spring training games, five of them at home.

In addition to the spring training announcement, MLB also said that in-person negotiations will begin next Monday with owners and players.

MLB has said Feb. 28 is the deadline to strike a deal or face a delay to the scheduled start to the regular season on March 31.

MLB’s statement opened with “We regret that, without a collective bargaining agreement in place, we must postpone the start of spring training games until no earlier than March 5.

“All 30 Clubs are unified in their strong desire to bring players back to the field and fans back to the stands,” said MLB, which added that full ticket refunds are available for scratched games. “We are committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to each side. On Monday, members of the owners’ bargaining committee will join an in-person meeting with the Players Association and remain every day next week to negotiate and work hard towards starting the season on time.”

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A wide gulf of assorted economic issues still separates the sides.

A 15-minute session on Thursday left the owners dismayed at what the union was proposing on the salary arbitration front.

Top negotiators from each side, Dan Halem for MLB and Bruce Meyer for the MLBPA, met privately afterwards for around 20 minutes.


Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.