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Like most minor leaguers, Don Barbara is getting squeezed

February 27, 1995

Like most minor leaguers, Don Barbara is getting squeezed by both sides.

The players’ union is telling him that if he plays in spring training games, he’ll be considered a strikebreaker. The Boston Red Sox are telling him that if he’s asked to play and refuses, he’s got to leave _ and pay his own way home, too.

``It’s a nice big Catch-22 for you,″ the first base prospect said Sunday. ``It’s all unfair for guys in my position.″

The whole issue of who’s going to play and who’s not is heating up. So is the rhetoric.

Asked how he’d deal with the players’ union leaders, New York Mets manager Dallas Green said, ``I’d grab Don Fehr by the throat and his buddy Gene Orza and (Mark) Belanger along with him.″

Today, the 200th day of the strike, baseball owners and players were to resume negotiations in Scottsdale, Ariz. Tonight, the union was to hold a meeting for minor leaguers in Tampa, Fla.

Caught in the middle, of course, are the minor leaguers, many of them unsure which way to go.

There’s Florida Marlins pitcher Kip Yaughn, 26, who said on Friday he wouldn’t go against the union. On Saturday, after reading a letter from general manager Dave Dombrowski urging minor leaguers to play, he changed his mind. Then on Sunday, after talking to his agent and two teammates with major league experience, he reversed his decision again.

``I’ve seemed pretty confused the past couple of days,″ Yaughn said. ``I don’t want to change my mind again. I’m back to how I felt on Friday. I’m just going to leave it alone and let it play out.″

Milwaukee, meanwhile became the latest team to offer its minor leaguers an incentive for playing. The Brewers will give them about $100 in meal money, rather than $11 they get at the minor league complex.

``That is a cost we’re willing to pay because they’ve been put in the middle,″ general manager Sal Bando said. ``Historically, we wouldn’t do that. But we will give them a little extra because they’re doing a little extra for us.″

Whether Barry Johnson will have a spot with the White Sox all year is uncertain. He was sent home Sunday after refusing to pitch in spring training games.

``Unless an arrangement was already made, he was expected to pitch in all games,″ White Sox general manager Ron Schueler said.

Johnson, 6-2 at Double-A Birmingham last season, could be called back when the team’s minor league camp begins March 15 if ``we have work for him,″ Schueler said.

``Right now we’re caught in the middle,″ Johnson said. ``I did my homework. I searched and searched to try and do the right thing. But you’re going to make one side or the other mad.″

The California Angels, who face Arizona State University in baseball’s first spring game, got written commitments from 45 of their 50 players that they would play. One player, whose identity was not known, refused and four others had not yet returned their paperwork.

San Francisco polled its players, who debated the matter on a practice field. Kansas City told its minor leaguers they would be considered striking players and sent home if they refused to play. Pittsburgh general manager Cam Bonifay said the minor leaguers make their decisions by today.

``It’s a bad situation to put us in, a terrible situation,″ said pitcher Archie Corbin, one of the Pirates’ final cuts last spring. ``I wish it didn’t have to come down to all this. ... I think everyone is facing the same dilemma.″

Some players with major league experience were seen at camps Sunday.

Casey Candaele had two hits as a team of Dodgers minor leaguers beat the Samsung Lions of the Korean League 11-2. No admission was charged and about 250 fans watched on a back field at Vero Beach, Fla.

Second baseman Chico Lind walked through the Royals’ complex in Haines City, Fla. He was there to pick up his brother, Orlando, a pitcher who is scheduled to start the first spring game Thursday against Stetson University. Steve Howe showed up for his first full day of work in the ticket office of the New York Yankees’ spring site in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He is working as a condition of his probation for a 1992 conviction on a drug charge.