O's ruling delayed until Sunday

March 31, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hoping a resolution in baseball's labor conflict will preclude his decision on the Orioles' refusal to play replacement baseball, American League president Gene Budig will wait until Sunday to pass sentence on the team.

"The longer we wait," said AL vice president Phyllis Merhige, "the better chance we have for a settlement. This is why we're doing it as late as we can Sunday."

If the owners and major-league players can't figure out a way out of their mess, Budig's announcement would come Sunday afternoon -- hours before the first pitch of the first scheduled replacement game -- assuming the owners follow through with their threat to field replacement players.

Budig yesterday directed the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers -- the first two teams scheduled to play at Camden Yards next week -- to cancel their travel plans. Budig also canceled the crews scheduled to umpire the series.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos reiterated his refusal to field a replacement team in a meeting with league lawyer Bill Schweitzer on Wednesday. Budig could order the Orioles to forfeit games, or remove them from the AL schedule, or penalize them with fines and suspensions.

The Orioles likely would reply to any punitive measure with litigation.

Merhige said Budig wants to do what is most fair to all the teams involved, and for Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, whose consecutive-games streak of 2,009 could be ended by Budig's actions.

"Unfortunately," Merhige said, "Cal's streak hinges on what happens to the games. The obvious [option] is the one we're not going to take: If we fielded a [replacement] team for the Orioles, then he wouldn't play and the streak would be over."

Angelos declined to discuss Budig's deliberations. "We've made our position clear on this matter," he said.

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond, in Florida for spring training, has delayed a return to Baltimore he originally planned for tomorrow.

"I changed my ticket to Monday," Hemond said. "I'm going to wait and see what happens."

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