Union head Don Fehr said yesterday that major league players have expressed "skepticism, patience and determination" over the owners' request to break from labor negotiations while the two sides discuss the sport's financial problems.

Fehr, acting executive director of the Major League Players Association, stopped at the New York Yankees' camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as part of the union's tour of spring training sites.

Last week, the owners asked that negotiations be delayed while they try to convince the union that baseball is in severe economic trouble. To prove their contention, owners might have to give the union an unprecedented full financial accounting of each team.

The union's executive board met over the weekend to discuss strategy and voted to conserve a $2.4 million fund from player-licensing to pay for any study of team finances. This money, which comes from manufacture of items licensed by the players, normally is distributed to players during spring training.

While saying players were skeptical of the owners' problems, Fehr said the union would wait for management's bargaining team to make its presentation "and go from there." The two sides have a negotiating session scheduled for Tuesday in West Palm Beach, Fla.