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Talks ongoing over coaches dispute

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  March 19, 2008 10:39 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- At this hour, Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, and Mike Lowell at least, are discussing this fluid situation here where players have threatened not to play today's 12:05 p.m. exhibition game with the Toronto Blue Jays, if coaches and training staff aren't paid a $40,000 per man stipend to make the trek to Japan.

The players are adamant that this was negotiated in their agreement to play in Japan, and now it's been reneged on. The Sox are scheduled to bus to the airport for their flight to Chicago and then Japan at 4:45 p.m.

Oakland general manager Billy Beane was driving to his office in Oakland when informed about possible boycotts by Red Sox players of today's final exhibition game or of the trip to Japan if coaches aren't paid the $40,000 they thought they were promised.

"I first found out about it yesterday when I dinner with my manager Bob Geren, and he told me about it," Beane said. "I think everyone on our staff, from what I was told was disappointed. I think that's safe to say."

Asked whether he knew if his players or coaches were taking the action the Sox have, he said, "I'm not aware of that. I'll probably know more when I get into the office. Looks like the Red Sox players have mobilized their forces."

Geren is the one who informed Francona that coaches and support staff, like trainers, were not being paid. This sent Francona into a frenzy because he had promised his coaches they would be paid. Francona said, "I had to go back and tell the coaches not to spend the money some of them had already spent."

First base coach Luis Alicea said he appreciates the support of the players but felt the entire issue was "embarrassing."

"We all like to feel as if we're part of the team We help the players and we appreciate what they're trying to do. We thought this issue was resolved a long time ago. To have it come down to the final day is embarrassing. That's about all I can say about it."

Curt Shilling was one of the players involved in the negotiations last fall.

"We had an agreement. We had an agreement in October," Schilling said. "I was one of the five or six players on the phone call. Some of the things they promised they've already taken away. From the players' point of view, we all felt the same way. They can't do this. This can't happen."

Schilling said a few things have already been "taken away" by Major League Baseball, according to the pitcher.

"In October when we were on the phone call, they wanted this trip to happen so badly, and now they've fallen by the wayside time and time again. The things we were adamant about at the time we reiterated time and time again, and it was never an issue."

What things?

"Different personal things that were supposed to happen from an accommodations standpoint. Little things that tend to make trips like this easier. It's been more than one thing. Hopefully, it's just miscommunication, and it will be fixed," Schilling said.

While Mike Lowell confirmed that the players voted not to play today's exhibition game with the Blue Jays if the issue is not resolved, Schilling wouldn't go that far.

"We've met and we've talked. We're trying to get the issue resolved right now," he said.

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