SARASOTA, Fla. -- When the time came for the ax to fall on the Orioles' spring-training schedule yesterday, Major League Baseball was merciful.
Rather than cancel all the games because of the Orioles' stance against replacement players -- and all 11 teams on the Orioles' Grapefruit League indicated they would do exactly that at 2 p.m. yesterday -- baseball canceled games through March 13.
Including the 12 Orioles games, baseball canceled 26 games yesterday as some teams were concerned about a player shortage. If the strike is resolved quickly, the Orioles could salvage the games March 14 and beyond.
Yesterday, Orioles GM Roland Hemond said: "I think that's probably a very wise move overall, to see how collective bargaining negotiations proceed before making any [more] decisions."
That Major League Baseball kept the Orioles' schedule intact after March 13 is a surprise. On Monday night, Chicago GM Ron Schueler said the White Sox would cancel three games with the Orioles, including exhibitions March 19 and 21.
The Baseball Operations committee has dictated most of the correspondence to the Orioles; Bill Murray, the executive director of Baseball Operations, could not be reached. If the strike continues, of course, it's likely the rest of the schedule will be canceled.
All minor-league exhibitions are on hold until March 15, by order of the Baseball Operations Committee.
One baseball executive, who asked that he not be identified, said the reason for the cancellations "is obvious. They want as few options as possible for the minor-leaguers. It's their way of trying to get them to play in the replacement games."
Three representatives from Major League Baseball, including Murray, toured a possible ballpark site in Washington yesterday.
Washington is one of a number of cities, including Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando and Phoenix, being considered for baseball expansion. Jim Small, manager of media relations for Major League Baseball, would not reveal the location.
Around the horn
A message with special meaning for Orioles manager Phil Regan arrived yesterday, from the first college team to inquire about playing the O's in an exhibition. It was from Andy Chopp, a former shortstop for and current coach of Grand Valley State, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Chopp played for Regan, who coached Grand Valley State from 1973 to 1982. "We might be able to get a game together," said Regan, smiling. "We might hear from a few more colleges . . . once they hear about our situation." . . . Frank Seminara pitched two solid innings in intrasquad play yesterday, strengthening his bid to make the Orioles as a middle reliever. . . . The Orioles' Triple-A and Double-A players will work out this morning here, then relocate to St. Petersburg.