Manfred gifts players headphones as lockout peace offering

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred gifted major league players Bose headphones on opening day as a peace offering after a bitter 99-day lockout that delayed the start of the season.

Major League Baseball confirmed that headphones and a letter signed by Manfred were left at the locker of each player when teams began their seasons Thursday and Friday. The present was first reported by The Athletic.

“Please accept this gift as a small gesture of my appreciation for the hard work that comes with being a Major Leaguer and your respect for our incredible fans,” Manfred wrote. “Thank you for everything you do in a game that has such a rich history and deep meaning to our fans in the U.S. and around the world. Wishing you the best of luck for a successful season.”

Manfred’s relationship with players has grown increasingly icy since he succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in 2014.

At the news conference announcing an agreement with the union to end this winter’s lockout, Manfred admitted that he’s failed in his role as a diplomat to players and pledged to improve the relationship.

Asked what Manfred could do to mend things this spring, players told The Associated Press the commissioner could do more to present himself as a steward of the game. At least one player, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, said he thought the damage was irreparable.

“To just put it bluntly, he doesn’t do anything for us,” Wainwright said. “I know how that’s going to read, so Commissioner Manfred, don’t take it personal. That’s just how it looks from a players’ standpoint.”