Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, a key player in the sale of the Washington Nationals, said Wednesday he didn't believe an owner would be chosen until November -- or until his team is eliminated from the playoffs.
Reinsdorf is representing Major League Baseball in negotiations with the D.C. Council on the Nationals' lease of a $535 million stadium project on the Anacostia waterfront. Baseball has said it will not select an owner before the lease is signed.
He also is following his own team, which is playing the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series. That is hindering him from spending much time on the ongoing talks with city officials.
"The way we're going here, there won't be an owner [chosen] before the start of the free agency period in early November," Reinsdorf said. "There will probably have to be a time when I need to be in Washington for a day or two to get this done and I won't have time as long as [the White Sox] are in this.
"As long as we're playing it does slow things down. But that's not my fault, however. [The lease] should have been done a long time ago."
Eight groups are bidding for the team, which is expected to sell for at least $450 million.
Asked if he could take himself out of the negotiations in order to speed up the process, Reinsdorf said that wouldn't work. "I have to finish it," he said. "You can't change the principal negotiator at the end."
Reinsdorf said he is trying to fit in meetings about the lease while tending to White Sox business. He said he had spoken to D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams by telephone.
Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said last week he would break his long-standing rule against making major news announcements during the postseason if the sale could be completed in October.
Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Livan Hernandez underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday in Miami. "He'll be at full strength for spring training," General Manager Jim Bowden said. Hernandez, who went 15-10 with a 3.98 ERA, was bothered by the knee for more than four months, and it surely affected his performance. He lost four or five mph off his fastball, and couldn't drive off the rubber to get a sharp break with his breaking ball. He went 12-3 with a 3.48 ERA before the all-star break, 3-7 with a 4.58 ERA afterward.
Also Wednesday, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge again dismissed a lawsuit filed by Comcast SportsNet against the Baltimore Orioles and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
Judge Durke G. Thompson in July dismissed Comcast's complaint against the Orioles, but he allowed Comcast to file the lawsuit again with new information. Yesterday, Thompson dismissed the amended suit, saying the cable company had not presented any new information.
Comcast said that it will appeal.
This past April, Comcast SportsNet filed suit, claiming that it, and not MASN, had the right to carry the Orioles games on cable television after the 2006 season. The dispute has kept millions of fans throughout the region from seeing Washington Nationals games.
Staff writers Thomas Heath and Barry Svrluga contributed to this report from Washington and St. Louis, respectively.