The number of players on strike, currently 760, may increase later this week when active rosters expand to 40.
Unlike past work stoppages, when rosters were frozen, this time teams are free to make deals and move players up and down from the minors, which end their regular seasons Labor Day weekend. When active rosters expand Thursday, teams can recall players on optional assignments in the minors, such as pitchers Tim Wakefield and Arthur Rhodes.While most players on option have split contracts, which specify one rate of pay in the minors and a higher rate in the majors, several have only a major league rate. That means teams can save about one-sixth of their salaries if they recall players and add them to the group already on strike.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the most players in this category with four, including pitcher Randy Tomlin, whose $975,000 salary is the highest in this group. If he's recalled Thursday, the Pirates would save $170,492.
Other Pirates in a similar situation are pitchers Wakefield ($170,000) and Blas Minor ($160,000) and first baseman Kevin Young ($160,000).
On other teams, players in this group include Baltimore's Rhodes ($230,000), California pitcher Mike Butcher ($150,000), Texas outfielder David Hulse ($210,000), Cincinnati pitcher Tim Pugh ($170,000), Los Angeles shortstop Jose Offerman ($515,000) and Philadelphia pitcher Paul Quantrill ($235,000).
Eugene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association, says the union will file a grievance if any of the players are recalled just to put them on strike. In that case, arbitrator George Nicolau would decide whether they get paid - but probably wouldn't make a decision until 1995 or 1996.
DAILY TOLL: As the strike went through its 16th day Saturday, 14 more games were canceled, raising the total to 209, 9.2 percent of the season. Players have lost $70.7 million in salaries and owners have lost $136 million in revenue.
Both sides expect to be contacted Monday by federal mediators and anticipate a meeting that would take place later in the week.
CRACKING?: Charlie Monfort, one of the three primary owners of the Colorado Rockies, isn't a fan of increasing the amount of revenue clubs share with each other.
In an interview Friday with the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, Monfort made his displeasure clear.
"That pitch doesn't jell well with me," he said. "I think it's past mistakes that have cost some of these teams. The San Diego Padres drew 2.3 million fans three years ago. Now that they're drawing what they're drawing ... it's mismanagement and has nothing to do with how San Diego can draw baseball fans. And I don't think they should be subsidized for mismanagement. I don't think that's what this proposal should be built on, but that's exactly what it is built on."
DEADLINES: Even though there's no baseball being played in the majors, teams must submit their postseason rosters by Wednesday's Aug. 31 deadline.
Coincidentally, that is the date players will miss their first paychecks. They were paid 11-15th of their normal two-week checks on Aug. 15.
DL: The union finally did crack Friday, sort of. Union head Donald Fehr left the office early to have a cracked wisdom tooth repaired. In other strike injuries, Lauren Rich, the union's No. 3 official, pulled a muscle while jogging.