The Baltimore Orioles will play Monday's scheduled exhibition game against their Class AAA affiliate after all. Even though most players apparently believed the game had been canceled, they agreed to play after General Manager Frank Wren explained the club's position in a meeting with players B.J. Surhoff, Brady Anderson and Mike Mussina.
In return, management agreed to shorten the contest against the Rochester Red Wings to seven innings and not schedule any exhibition games during the season next year.
Several players believed the Rochester game had been canceled after they agreed to give up an off-day to play an exhibition game against Cuba on May 3. They learned it was still on the schedule earlier this week when itineraries were distributed for next week's trip to Toronto and New York.
"There seemed to be a genuine misunderstanding about what was agreed to," Surhoff said. "Players were under the impression the game was going to be scrapped. Ownership was under the impression that it was something that would be worked out. I don't think it was done maliciously. It was just a misunderstanding."
With a standing room only crowd of 13,000 expected at Frontier Field in Rochester, players apparently believed they had no choice but to play the game. The game will begin at 6:15 p.m., which means the Orioles likely will arrive in Toronto after midnight.
"It seemed to be in the best interests of the organization for us to play," Surhoff said. "It has nothing to do with the people in Rochester. If the game had been in Timbuktu or a beach, we'd feel the same way. It's just the fact we were forced to give up another off day."
The Orioles played 20 straight days earlier this season because of the Cuba game, and the Rochester exhibition means they will be playing 20 straight days again.
"It's not like it's going to kill us," Surhoff said, "but it would be nice to have a day off. With a game Sunday afternoon and then not playing again until Tuesday night, it would be like having 2 1/2 days off. That can help you. That can help you rebound."
News of the player disenchantment became public on Tuesday when outfielder Albert Belle posted a petition for players to endorse a boycott of the game. Manager Ray Miller said his concern was "not wanting it to affect the way things are going. Hopefully, everybody is happy about the way it has been worked out."
Miller said he probably would start his regular lineup.