FORT MYERS, Fla. – Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell confirmed to the Globe’s Jackie MacMullan that the team voted unanimously this morning not to make the scheduled trip to Japan or play its final spring training game against Toronto this afternoon unless the coaches, training staff, and equipment staff were going to be compensated for making the trip to Japan.
''When we voted to go to Japan, that was not a unanimous vote,'' said Lowell, "but we did what our team wanted us to do for Major League Baseball. They promised us the moon and the stars, and then when we committed, they started pulling back. It's not just the coaches, it's the staff, the trainers, a lot of people are affected by this.
"I'm so super proud of this team. When we put it to a vote it was unanimous, we're all in agreement that we're not going to put up with this.''
Manager Terry Francona and his players were extremely irked after learning the team's coaches were not going to get the $40,000 stipend they assumed they’d be getting for making the trip to Japan (players will also receive a payment). Francona had informed the coaches they’d be getting the stipend.
However, the Sox manager was told by members of the Oakland coaching staff that they were not being paid. Francona had thought it was unusual that one team’s staff would be paid and the other not. So he checked into it and found he and his coaches were getting nothing.
The Red Sox are scheduled to leave Fort Myers after today’s Grapefruit League finale against the Blue Jays (12:05 p.m.), but now it appears both the game and the flight are somewhat in question.
"That's one of the things we've been talking about," David Ortiz said of the potential Japan boycott. "It's really [expletive] up."
The scene here in Florida is an odd one, for sure. There have been conversations going on about the issue among the Red Sox staff, including one between Lowell and Francona and between Lowell and Theo Epstein. Meanwhile, there are a couple hundred suitcases outside the locker room being tagged and weighed for the trip to Japan.
Francona said he doesn't care about himself but that in some cases the $40,000 represents some two-fifths of a coach’s salary. The Red Sox are scheduled to face the Oakland Athletics in two season-opening games in Tokyo on March 25 and 26.