NEW YORK (AP) _ New York Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez and third base coach Cookie Rojas sat out Tuesday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds to honor a Cuban-American protest on behalf of the Elian Gonzalez situation.

Reds outfielder Alex Ochoa, whose parents were born in Cuba, decided to play. He started in left field.

Ordonez and Rojas arrived at Shea Stadium about 3 1/2 hours before the game, met with general manager Steve Phillips and Bobby Valentine and left the park shortly thereafter.

The Mets backed the decision, and Phillips said both team members would be paid.

``Baseball should not be a political forum, but they felt they needed to support the community in which they live, and I support their decision,'' Phillips said.

Ordonez, a Gold Glover, and Rojas were both born in Cuba and live in Florida during the offseason. Melvin Mora took Ordonez's place at shortstop and bench coach John Stearns replaced Rojas in the third base box.

Cuban-Americans in the Miami area called for a work stoppage Tuesday to protest the way in which the 6-year-old Gonzalez was taken from his relatives' home during the weekend.

Several Marlins players and coaches planned to miss Tuesday night's game against San Francisco.

``I realize this sets a precedent. You open yourself up to the next cause, but we'll take care of that when we come to it,'' Phillips said.

``If somebody has a problem with spotted owls, they could make that their cause. Now I'm not comparing Elian to that, but people have causes that are important to them.''

Phillips said Rojas approached him to discuss the issue of being paid for the day.

``Cookie said if you want to dock our pay, I have no problem with it,'' Phillips said. The GM told Rojas the team did not feel that was necessary.

Ochoa, who had only 28 at-bats this season, spent the day thinking about the situation. And while he fully supports the cause, Ochoa did not want to miss an opportunity to be in the starting lineup.

``It's an easier decision for an everyday player,'' Ochoa said. ``I didn't want to let the team down.''