MLBPA director Clark delivers annual speech to Astros

'State of the union' includes topics such as pace of play and instant replay

MLBPA director Clark delivers annual speech to Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Tony Clark, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, gave his "annual state of the union" talk to Astros players on Thursday morning at Osceola County Stadium, touching on topics that included instant replay, pace of play and domestic violence.

The players union makes an appearance in each camp during the spring to talk to the players and answer any questions they might have.

"A lot of what's discussed is really giving guys an update on what's going on with the Association," Clark said. "Beyond that, literally anything that hit the headlines the last three or four months we talk about, whether it's pace of game, domestic violence ... any number of issues that will resonate with the guys."

Astros catcher Jason Castro, who's the team's player rep to the union, said the meeting was pretty straightforward.

"Making sure guys were clear of some of the new replay stuff and the new pace of game stuff just from the players' side, just making sure guys knew their rights basically, what's allowed, what's not allowed, and encourage guys to keep open dialogue and be honest about how it's going, if it's affecting them in any way -- positive or negative," Castro said. "It's about encouraging guys to participate, basically put their two cents in and make sure that, based on everyone's experiences, what can be a change for the better and that kind of stuff.

"There wasn't a ton of new stuff we haven't talked about before. It was pretty straightforward."

Clark said he's pleased to see the Astros add more veterans this year, such as Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Colby Rasmus, Evan Gattis, Luis Valbuena and Jed Lowrie, to its young mix.

"It lends itself to some dialogue that may not have been the case over the course of the last couple of years, where everybody is learning more about their careers and the roles of the players union in their careers," Clark said. "Today was fantastic."

Clark, who played 15 years in the Major Leagues, actually played under Astros manager A.J. Hinch when he was the D-backs' manager in 2009.

"I'm happy for all the experiences he had leading up to this, and I'm happy for the opportunity he's being given here," Clark said. "Everything he's experienced and went through, and the different areas that he did, has him in a good place and has him equipped to do all the things everybody believes he's capable of doing as a manager."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.