Michael Jordan didn’t show up for today’s workouts, the day
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Michael Jordan didn’t show up for today’s workouts, the day after he walked out of the Chicago White Sox spring training complex.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ron Schueler played down Jordan’s abrupt departure, saying he was exercising an option presented Thursday to all players who don’t want to play in exhibition games: either move next door to the team’s minor league lockerroom or report back when minor league camp opens March 9.
``He’s not supposed to be here. You can’t say he’s AWOL or missing,″ Schueler said. ``He had two options, to go over there or not. He chose the latter. You can’t punish him for it.″
Jordan appeared agitated when he left camp.
At the strike negotiations in Scottsdale, Ariz., Reinsdorf said he wasn’t disappointed.
``We never asked that he play in exhibition games,″ Reinsdorf said. ``He’s assigned to a minor league club. That won’t change. Minor leaguers are not required to be in camp until later this month. Any minor leaguer who doesn’t want to be there is free to go home.″
``He’s probably frustrated both with the union and with the decision I made. You know he wants to play. He wants to get better,″ Schueler said.
Schueler said he had not talked with Jordan since he left camp, hours after the White Sox split their team into those would play in exhibitions and those who would not. Jordan had still not announced his decision on whether to play but was not on a roster for today’s exhibition opener.
``I’m not upset. I’m disappointed because of the effort he’s put in this thing. He’s not here to continue hitting. He’s made tremendous improvement and you hate to see him throw it away. He’s losing a lot of valuable time,″ Schueler said.
``I’m going to respect his decision. If he wants to go home for a few days or a week, that’s something he has to do.″
Jordan jumped into his black Range Rover and left Thursday, saying he was ``going home,″ didn’t know when he’d be back and that he would release a statement at a later date.
``(Schueler) told him he had to move to the other room, and he took off,″ said minor leaguer Jerry Wolak, who sat five chairs down from Jordan in the major league clubhouse. ``He sprinted out of here all (ticked) off, and all his boys picked up his stuff. He’ll be gone a week, guaranteed.″
One player said Jordan arranged for his private jet to take him back to Chicago today.
Jordan’s personal assistant and driver, George Koehler, said, ``I walked in and he said, `We’re going.′ We walked out to the truck and that was it. I don’t know anything.″
Koehler said he had no prior knowledge that Jordan was leaving.
``I don’t think he was ticked off. I think he’s either tired or frustrated,″ Koehler said.
Striking major leaguers say anyone playing exhibition games will be regarded as a strikebreaker.
The White Sox told players declining to play in exhibition games to move their belongings into the minor league clubhouse, which is more spartan and less spacious. They also were asked to leave the team hotel and had their meal money slashed from $560 a week to $35. They were not, however, sent home as Schueler earlier had suggested.
Thirty-two players stayed and 31 went to the other side.
Jordan voiced a desire from the beginning of camp to not be caught in the middle of the struggle between the players union he supports and the owners.
Jordan, who has shown marked improvement from a year ago when he first joined the Sox, needs to sharpen his skills by playing games. He’d also been sympathetic toward minor leaguers forced to make a decision about the games.
In his first spring with the White Sox a year ago, Jordan never left the major league clubhouse, not even after he was sent to minor league camp.