The Major League Baseball Players Association will open its free-agent training camp on Friday in Homestead, Fla., and will have a manager and a full coaching staff for the nearly 200 free agents eligible to attend.
It will not have Cal Ripken Sr., however, even though the former Orioles manager and coach apparently was the union's first choice to run the camp. Union official and former Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger said Ripken Sr. was offered the job but "could not commit" to the three-week assignment.
In his stead, former Oakland Athletics manager Jackie Moore has been hired as manager/coordinator of the unusual training camp, and will have among his coaches former major-leaguers Mike Jeffcoat, Wes Gardner, Andy McGaffigan, Marty Scott, Paul Lindblad, Bill Stein, Jerry Morales and Greg Olson.
The camp will be open to unsigned players who appeared in the major leagues in 1994 and are not on the voluntary retired list. The union will pay for their transportation, lodging, rental car and supply meal money while they are in camp.
"I look at it as a way to provide for these guys," said Belanger. "These are basically the guys who we asked not to sign contracts. This will give them a place to get ready and be seen."
The Homestead facility was a perfect fit. The camp, which was built for the Cleveland Indians, has been largely unused since Hurricane Andrew ravaged the area. The players booked it as the training camp for their proposed barnstorming tour, so it already was being prepared for their arrival.
"We had the facility," Belanger said, "so why waste it?"
Moore is both manager and camp coordinator, so he won't necessarily be the manager if the union assembles a club to play in exhibition games.
According to the union, he will have the option of managing the club or appointing one of the coaches as manager.
If the union schedules home exhibition games, MLBPA director of licensing Judy Heeter said this week that they will be played for charity.