Red Sox, A's resolve pay dispute, end threatened boycott of spring games, Japan trip Print
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Wednesday, 19 March 2008 13:25
MLB Headline News

 FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -Fans at City of Palms Park were ready for Boston's final spring training game in Florida. The Red Sox weren't.
In an extraordinary move, Boston players voted to boycott a nationally televised exhibition and Wednesday afternoon's flight to Japan for next week's season-opening series against Oakland, upset that coaches weren't going to receive the same $40,000 payments negotiated for players by their union.
A couple of hours later, all was resolved, and the Red Sox took the field one hour late for a 4-3 loss to Toronto before a crowd of 7,868.
Across the country in Phoenix, Athletics players also considered a boycott. They didn't take batting practice and held five team meetings before following Boston's lead and deciding to play. An Oakland split squad lost 6-1 to the Los Angeles Angels in front of 7,940 fans before leaving for Tokyo.
``The players just stepped up and they did what I think was right,'' Boston bench coach Brad Mills said.
Major League Baseball agreed to pay the managers, coaches and trainers on the trip $20,000 each from management's proceeds, a person familiar with the agreement said, speaking on condition of anonymity because details weren't announced. The Red Sox agreed to make up the difference to make the amount equal, and to pay some of the other team personnel making the trip, the person said.
``It was a misunderstanding of what agreement was reached between MLB and the MLBPA,'' Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. ``We said we would step up and make sure a second pool was created and would seek contributions from all parties.''
It had not yet been determined whether Oakland would make additional payments to its staff.
``Everyone connected with the trip will be fairly compensated,'' baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.
Cancellation of the March 25-26 series at the Tokyo Dome would have been a publicity nightmare for Major League Baseball, which already has had enough bad news during an offseason dominated by performance-enhancing drugs.
Managers and coaches were included in the players' pool payments for baseball's two previous season-opening trips to Japan, when the New York Mets played the Chicago Cubs in 2000 and the Yankees played Tampa Bay in 2004. But this time, the agreement between MLB and the players' association called only for payments to 30 players on each club, and left out the coaches.
``They're just as much a part of this team as anybody,'' said Oakland closer Huston Street, the team's player representative. ``Playoff shares, coaches get an equal share. You look at previous Japan trips, coaches have gotten an equal share.''
The initial vote by Boston players set off a series of calls among players from the Red Sox and Athletics, Major League Baseball, the clubs and the players' association.
``We felt we had to make a stand, and being on ESPN didn't hurt,'' Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell said.
At Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where their game was scheduled to start three hours after Boston's, A's players watched coverage of the Red Sox dispute. Oakland players spoke by telephone with their Boston counterparts about boycotting the trip.
``There was a discussion about whether to play the game today. There was a discussion about how the money could potentially be handled. There was a discussion about going to Japan. There was a discussion about how to talk to the media about it,'' Street said.
Street said Oakland's players would be willing to lower what they receive in order to provide for coaches. He said while ``everybody is going to be compensated fairly,'' he wasn't certain that ``fairly'' would mean ``equally.''
Lowell said $20,000 payments for the coaches would not have been acceptable given that the players were making $40,000.
``We didn't think that was correct,'' he said. ``Giving them half of that is not equal.''
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had been scheduled to pitch for Boston, left the stadium to pitch in a game against Minnesota's Triple-A affiliate while David Aardsma started in his place. Matsuzaka is scheduled to be the opening-day starter in Tokyo next week against Oakland.
Boston manager Terry Francona spoke twice Wednesday with commissioner Bud Selig about the exhibition against the Blue Jays.
``Mr. Selig was justifiably concerned about playing the game, which I completely understand,'' Francona said.
Boston's Kevin Youkilis stressed the players felt strongly about not going to Japan without a resolution.
``The club's working on stuff and trying to get money where it needs to get,'' he said. ``It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, and it ended in a good way.''
Boston catcher Jason Varitek said players thought it was necessary to take a stand on behalf of the coaches and staff.
``They're the basis of what takes care of us,'' he said.
Oakland general manager Billy Beane was happy the trip will go on and expressed desire for additional international play.
``I hope we go to Rome. I hope we go to Paris, Berlin,'' Beane said, wearing shorts with a logo of the English soccer club Arsenal.
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AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and AP freelance reporter Rick Eymer in Phoenix contributed to this report.
 

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