|With pay dispute resolved, Red Sox and A's end threatened boycott and head to Japan|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 March 2008 19:07|
In an extraordinary move, Boston players voted to boycott a nationally televised exhibition game 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 few hours later, all was resolved, and the Red Sox took the field 64 minutes late for a 4-3 loss to Toronto before a crowd of 7,868 in Fort Myers, Fla.
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.
``It was definitely an experience of a lifetime, and it ended in a good way,'' Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis 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.''
Youkilis stressed the players felt strongly about not going to Japan without a resolution.
``The players just stepped up and they did what I think was right,'' Boston bench coach Brad Mills said.
It was unclear whether Oakland would make additional payments to its staff.
``We are going to handle the situation internally at this point,'' A's president Michael Crowley said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. ``We will ensure that our coaches are treated fairly.''
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.
``Everyone connected with the trip will be fairly compensated,'' baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.
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.
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.
In other news, Nomar Garciaparra has a broken bone in his right hand, and the Los Angeles Dodgers' third baseman might not be ready for opening day.
Kerry Wood missed a one-inning relief appearance because of lower back spasms, putting the competition for the Chicago Cubs' closer job on hold.
And hard-throwing Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the New York Yankees' bullpen.
In other spring training games:
Yankees 12, Pirates 9
At Bradenton, Fla., in the first night game at 85-year-old McKechnie Field, Byung-Hyun Kim gave up two late homers to an old nemesis: the New York Yankees. The Pittsburgh reliever was touched up by Nick Green and Chad Moeller in a four-run eighth.
Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes allowed seven runs, six earned, and seven hits in four innings. Pittsburgh's Matt Morris was rocked for eight runs and 13 hits in four innings. Jorge Posada went 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Yankees, including a two-run homer off Morris.
Rockies 10, White Sox 10
At Tucson, Ariz., Jim Thome homered twice and Alexei Ramirez also connected for Chicago. Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer and added two long doubles for Colorado.
Cardinals 12, Orioles 3
At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Albert Pujols homered for St. Louis, his fifth of the spring despite a torn elbow ligament. Baltimore's Adam Loewen threw 63 pitches over 1 2-3 innings, retiring just five of 15 hitters.
Angels 6, Athletics (ss) 1
At Phoenix, Rich Harden pitched six solid innings for Oakland, allowing two runs and eight hits. Vladimir Guerrero hit a grand slam off Keith Foulke, and Gary Matthews went 4-for-4 for the Angels.
Athletics (ss) 5, Cubs (ss) 2
At Mesa, Ariz., Wood sat out and one of his competitors for the closer role, Carlos Marmol, gave up a bases-loaded walk in Oakland's four-run eighth. Derrek Lee hit his first homer of the spring for the Cubs.
Rays 3, Phillies 1
At St. Petersburg, Fla., James Shields was picked to start Tampa Bay's season opener, and back-of-the-rotation candidate Edwin Jackson allowed one run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings against Philadelphia.
Mets 3, Indians 1
At Port St. Lucie, Fla., John Maine struck out seven in 5 2-3 strong innings for New York.
Astros 8, Braves 7
At Kissimmee, Fla., Shawn Chacon secured a spot in Houston's rotation, allowing one run and three hits with four strikeouts in five innings. Miguel Tejada went 4-for-4 with his first home run for the Astros.
Cubs (ss) 4, Giants 2
At Scottsdale, Ariz., Jon Lieber allowed one run in five innings, giving up seven hits, walking one and striking out four for the Cubs. Giants starter Kevin Correia worked worked six innings, giving up four runs.