Major League Baseball players' union officials denied reports on ESPN that they told some Montreal Expos players during a closed-door meeting Tuesday that they will likely be playing in the Washington area next year.
"What we essentially told them is that we have reason to expect Major League Baseball will make a decision, hopefully by the owners' meeting in a few weeks . . . and that a number of places are on the list," said MLB Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr. "Nobody gave them assurances that they will be going to any location as opposed to anyplace else. People can make their own judgments on that."
The players union must approve any move.
MLB President Bob DuPuy called the report that the Expos will be playing in the Washington area next year "preposterous, not true."
"Apparently, union representatives offered their opinion of what might happen," said DuPuy in an e-mail. "It carries no imprimatur. No decision has been made and no recommendation has been made to the commissioner. Uninformed comments like this do not move the process along."
DuPuy has said that baseball is considering all six possible relocation sites: Washington; Northern Virginia; Las Vegas; Norfolk; Portland, Ore.; and Monterrey, Mexico.
The biggest impediment to the Washington area has been Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who opposes a team in Washington because he believes it will draw fans and viewers from the Orioles. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has also said he has concerns that putting a franchise too close to another would hurt both teams.
Selig has said the team will almost assuredly be playing somewhere other than Montreal for the 2005 season.
A decision is expected by an August owners' meeting in Philadelphia.
-- Thomas Heath