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Players who attended the latest briefing from their union leader say a new league is likely if the dispute doesn't end by spring training.

"The bottom line is that the owners are trying to break the players' union and they are not interested in bargaining. I really don't think they care about the fans and what is going on," said Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas, whose bid for a Triple Crown was curtailed when the season was canceled a month after players went on strike.Thomas, one of 56 players attending Monday's meeting, said he expects no wavering by the union.

"You never know, there could be some guys who jump the line, but I have a feeling that is not going to happen," he said. "It would be unheard of, undoing what the players before us did. That's what they're trying to do, make us take a giant step backwards."

Thomas and teammate Jack McDowell lost big money during the strike. McDowell will miss more than $1 million in paychecks. But they are not ready to cave in on the salary cap owners want.

"When I broke in, the dollars I'm making now was not even thought of," said McDowell, whose 1994 contract was for $5.3 million. "The salary cap would close that system up. Whether I recoup or not is not what it is about. It's about wrong or right."

There was some brief discussions about starting a new league.

"We have seven or eight options. What I have been told (is that) there are 10-plus corporations that are willing to sponsor us and there are a lot of city-owned stadiums where leases haven't been fulfilled," Cubs player representative Randy Myers said. "We also have a couple of broadcasting stations that are willing to go with us. It's just one of the possibilities."

Player agent Tom Selakovich said an announcement of a players' league for 1995 could come within about 10 days. But Dick Moss, the agent organizing it, said Oct. 19 is his current target date.

"I wouldn't call it a joke. People are putting a lot of time and effort into it," Selakovich said.

"There's a lot of work to be done on that," Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace said.

Some players on Monday also said a threat to bring up minor leaguers to fill out rosters would not work because fans would see the difference in talent. For now, they are just waiting and hoping for a breakthrough that doesn't look close.

"There is nothing you can do about it. Just hang in there," Minnesota's Kirby Puckett said of the strike.

"I'm doing fine, and I'm sure other players here are doing fine or they wouldn't be here. It's good to see a big number of guys turn out."

Union head Donald Fehr said he had noticed a "fair amount of anger" during his meetings so far. "What you have more than anything else is a cold resolve, `Well if that's the game they want to play then that's the one we'll play,"' he said.