Just when baseball seemed to put its troubles aside, another problem popped up.
Major league umpires, upset with the revised regular-season schedule, are considering a boycott of spring training games, The Associated Press learned Thursday night.A source familiar with the dispute said umpires may protest by not working this spring. The umpires are not threatening the regular season, the source indicated.
Richie Phillips, head of the umpires' union, said from his home that there would be some sort of announcement around 11 a.m. EST Friday regarding umpires. He did not elaborate.
Exhibition games are to start Monday and opening day is April 9. The owners' 32-day lockout delayed the beginning of spring training for a month and pushed back openers by a week.
Baseball announced Thursday that it will play a full 162-game schedule. The season has been extended for three days and other games will be made up during the year.
The umpires, the source said, are upset that they were not consulted about changing the schedule. Baseball already has re-scheduled some games for previously open dates, and umpires are worried that will mean fewer off days for them.
The umpires have other concerns, the AP learned. The use of fill-in umpires, particularly in the American League, is an area of contention.
Umpires signed a four-year contract just before the start of the 1987 season. They had gone on strike three times in the previous nine years, the last during the 1984 postseason. Amateur umpires were used for a few playoff games, but not in the World Series.
The umpires' contract expires at the end of the 1990 season. The main issue in the last contract talks was money.