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Union will defend players in domestic cases

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Baseball union head Tony Clark began his tour of the 30 spring training camps by pointing out that his group will defend the rights of players under investigation for domestic violence.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred put Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes on paid leave this week pending a trial scheduled to start April 4. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig also are under investigation by MLB.

“It’s going to be very important that despite what has been written and what has been offered publicly, that due process plays itself out,” Clark said Thursday. “The reality is we’re having dialogue and we’ll continue to, that the rights of the players involved will be protected.”

Clark and union staff are speaking with players ahead of the start of bargaining on a labor contract to replace the one that expires Dec. 1.

“We’ll address the guys more of what to expect over the course of the year and appreciate that there are a lot of moving pieces,” he said.

An agreement was reached in 2006 during the World Series and in 2011 in November, both times ahead of the expiration of the previous deal.

This will be the first labor contract since Clark became union head following the death of Michael Weiner.

“There’s an appreciation for this year being a little bit different,” Clark said.