Players hear familiar story on lockout Union chief Fehr briefs O's, Royals Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and his assistant, Mark Belanger, held briefings for the Orioles and Kansas City Royals before last night's game at Camden Yards. The meetings, the first since spring training, had a dual purpose, with the possibility of a lockout next spring commanding most of the attention. Originally, Fehr had intended to use the meetings to brief the players on expansion, which takes place this winter. But in the wake of the forced resignation of commissioner Fay Vincent, the players heard a familiar message from Fehr. "It [his message] hasn't changed much, except to point out that the owners have been much more out front about their intentions," said Fehr. "I don't have to tell the players that the wars are coming. It [a lockout] is not a certainty, but I have to consider that it's possible," said Fehr. Almost from the time the current Basic Agreement was signed three years ago, Fehr has told the players to anticipate that the owners would exercise their right to re-open negotiations this winter, a year before the agreement is scheduled to expire. A big day for Day The Orioles will honor Leon Day, a great from the Negro Leagues, in an opening-ball ceremony before next Thursday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Day, 75, who lives here, played for the Baltimore Elite Giants -- among other teams -- and played in a record seven Negro League All-Star games. Day's career spanned 22 seasons in summer and winter ball. One of the first pitchers to use the no-windup delivery, he struck out a Negro League record 18 batters in one game in 1942 and a Puerto Rican League record 19 during the 1939-1940 season. No back seat for Rhodes The unusual circumstances surrounding the Orioles' 2-1 win over the Royals in 14 innings Tuesday night pushed the performance of Arthur Rhodes into the background. But Orioles manager Johnny Oates did not forget. If there was any doubt about who would pitch against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night (and Oates says there wasn't) Rhodes settled the issue. "If he continues [to improve] like this, you've got a gem," said Oates. "He executed well and he threw extremely well. "You don't have to go out there with that kind of stuff all the time," said Oates. "If you can do it three out of five times, you'll win a lot of games." Especially impressive was the improvement Rhodes has shown in holding runners on base. He kept the speedy Gary Thurman anchored to first base in the eighth inning while protecting a 1-0 lead. Poole making a splash Oates also was enthusiastic about left-handed reliever Jim Poole's second straight impressive performance. "Both times he has been out there, he's thrown as well as he did at any time last year," said Oates. Poole missed virtually the entire year because of shoulder problems, spending most of the season at Rochester, first on rehabilitation and then on option. His numbers in Triple-A were unimpressive, but the reports on him improved a lot toward the end of the season. "Jerry [Rochester manager Jerry Narron] said he threw great his last three times out," said Oates. "And he's continued since he's been here. "The scouts clocked his fastball at 87 [mph], which is great for him. His slider has some tilt to it and it looks like the left-handed hitters don't want any part of him." Keys say thanks The Frederick Keys will hold a thank-you night for their fans at Grove Stadium on Saturday night to raise money for the Frederick Community Foundation. Included will be a showing of the movie "Field of Dreams" on a 40-foot screen at second base, a fireworks display and an auction of baseball memorabilia donated by Cal Ripken. General admission is $4 and $2 for children. The concession stands will be open.