The unpredictable world of Red Sox player rep Matt Barnes


​Like the rest of his Major League Baseball brethren, Matt Barnes is making do.

There has been a lot of video game-playing, along with the completion of the media cabinet that sits below his television. He has had time to analyze his Giants’ recent performance in the NFL Draft while occasionally wearing a “Trust the Gettleman Process” t-shirt. (“I think they did a pretty good job. I was a fan of it,” Barnes said regarding the football’s team recent performance on Draft Day.)

And, of course, there is the throwing.

Usually, the game of catch for the Red Sox’ pitcher is conducted with his good friend and nearby neighbor Jeremy Hodza, with the pair teaming up on a near-daily basis near their Connecticut homes.

"You have to stay decently ready," Barnes told "We’ll have enough time to really ramp it up. But I have just been trying to stay at 70 or 80 percent and then from there, I can easily ramp up the last 20 or 30 percent when we do get the phone call.

"The hardest part is the timetable because you don’t know how long you will be doing it for."

quarantine and off-season projects got me thinking I’m Bob the Builder ---- ready for baseball anytime now...

A post shared by Matt Barnes (@mbarnes1313) on May 1, 2020 at 2:58pm PDT

That brings us to the uncertainty Barnes has been introduced to.

Not only is he one of the big leaguers trying to prepare for a season nobody knows will arrive any time soon, but he also finds himself as the go-between for all the Red Sox players and the Players' Association, serving another season as the team's player representative.

"Nobody has gone through it, whether it’s a rep, the union, the league. Nobody," he explained.

"Everything we do in life is about adjusting. Whether it’s in a game, or going from the offseason to a season, back and forth. It’s kind of everything we do. It’s definitely a little difficult and change, but for the most part everybody is doing alright. I think a lot of guys have the ability to see the bigger picture and understand that we all want to be playing baseball and be playing as many games as possible but this is a global pandemic and a national emergency where peoples’ lives are truly at risk. We have to make sure we’re taking care of the people who are in trouble and in bad health and that is the first priority."

The tasks of player reps haven't always been the kind of responsibilities that are put on front pages. Usually the title goes to a younger player who is believed to be sticking around the big league team for a while and shows some ability to communicate what needs to be communicated.

Daniel Bard did it for the Red Sox for a couple of years, with Jackie Bradley Jr. taking the reins in 2014. That paved the way for Barnes' tenure.

"I think I was kind of 'voluntold' to do it," Bard remembered. "I was young, had relatively established myself that I might be there for a while and I had the capacity to hold a conversation with the union people. I think those were the requirements."

The dynamic regarding how the job is executed has changed in recent years, with the distribution of paper being replaced by the union's online options.

But still, having a player embedded in each clubhouse -- like Barnes -- is invaluable for the Players' Association, particularly when the teams were still in their respective camps while the coronavirus chaos was starting to bubble up.

"I have been in contact with the union over things that are involving this. Yeah, there has probably been a little more responsibility now than there has been in the past," Barnes said. "But everybody is being put in positions they aren’t necessarily used to. You have to adapt and overcome. It’s been fine.

"I know that everybody wants to play as many games as possible. I think we’ll get there. I think we’ll find a way to come to some terms in a way this is all going to work in a way that isn’t going to jeopardize the risk and health conditions of everyone. Everyone wants to play but you have to do it in a smart fashion."

So, now Barnes waits.

Throwing-wise, the righty believes he is in a good place. ("I was probably a game or two away from being season-ready," he said in reference to when MLB shut down spring training.) And as for the plan that is forthcoming from MLB to reintroduce baseball, Barnes also has confidence it is going down the right road.

"I have no idea when or how this going to work yet," he said. "If there is a way to keep everybody healthy and safe while playing some baseball, let’s do it."

The season might be on hold but the work continues. #eyesstillon2020 #grizzlyblergyms @grizzlybler

A post shared by Matt Barnes (@mbarnes1313) on Mar 20, 2020 at 10:14am PDT