The Boston Red Sox ended a threatened boycott Wednesday of their final spring training game in Florida, resolving a dispute over paying coaches for the season-opening trip to Japan.
The game against Toronto started an hour late when the team voted unanimously not to play or go to Tokyo after learning coaches and staff would not get a $40,000 US stipend for the Japan trip. Players said they believed that fee was part of the deal.
"Everyone connected with the trip will be fairly compensated," baseball spokesman Rich Levin said.
Red Sox spokesman John Blake would not say how the dispute was resolved.
"We're going to Japan," he said.
Earlier, catcher Jason Varitek said the team would not take the field or go to Japan until Major League Baseball agreed to pay the coaches and staff.
Manager Terry Francona and his players became upset after learning staff members were not going to get a $40,000 stipend.
"We're so united. And I don't mean just the players," he said in a dugout interview with ESPN during Wednesday's game. "I mean the staff, the trainers and our players showed that, and that's what this was about. It wasn't about being greedy. It was about trying to be unified."
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who had been scheduled to pitch, left the stadium to pitch at a game against Minnesota's Triple A affiliate. David Aardsma started in his place. Matsuzaka is scheduled to be the opening-day starter in Tokyo next week against Oakland.
Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox player representative, said the agreement still needs to be put in writing and the compensation for coaches and staff "is not the greatest thing that we wanted for them, but it's good."
He stressed that the players felt strongly about not going to Japan without a resolution.
"The club's working on stuff and trying to get money where it needs to get," he said. "It was definitely an experience of a lifetime and it ended in a good way."
Embree supports Sox
Varitek said players thought it was necessary to take a stand on behalf of the coaches and staff.
"They're the basis of what takes care of us," he said.
Oakland pitcher Alan Embree said he supported Boston's stance.
"I think we'll get together and talk about it. I was under the impression that everybody was taken care of," Embree said. "I don't care how they split it up, who's at fault. They just need to fix it."
He said a Boston player contacted him Wednesday morning. Oakland players planned to meet to discuss the situation before their exhibition game against a Chicago Cubs' split squad.
"For those guys to take that stance — they're veterans. They feel strongly about it, and they brought it to the attention of higher-ups," Embree said. "We have to fix it one way or the other. … Coaches deserved compensation. They're going over there, too, and every little bit counts."
Boston pitcher Curt Schilling said they learned Tuesday the deal was not what the players and coaches thought they'd agreed to with baseball.
"I think everyone was kind of caught off guard," he said.
Red Sox batting coach Dave Magadan said he appreciated the players' support.
"It means as much as the money itself," he told ESPN.
For the Red Sox, it was a dramatic end to a quiet Florida spring training.
"I did not have an off day yesterday [Tuesday]. I had the phone glued to my ear because I was promised some answers, and I haven't even received a phone call," Francona said. "So I'm a little bit stuck. What I want to do this morning is get excited to play a baseball game, and what I ended up doing is apologizing to the coaches and being humiliated."