The Associated Press
SARASOTA, Fla. Ä Would Michael Jordan be sent home if he declines to play in exhibition games for the Chicago White Sox?
''Probably,'' Jordan said yesterday. And what would he do? ''Go play golf.''
One day after minor league pitcher Barry Johnson was sent packing because he refused to play in exhibition games, general manager Ron Schueler held a brief team meeting to lay out ground rules and explain his stance on the issue.
Schueler's meeting yesterday preceded one in Tampa between the union and minor leaguers.
Jordan still hasn't announced his intentions and said he needed to collect information from the Tampa meeting, which he did not plan to attend.
He said he had not discussed the situation with Schueler and might wait until right before Friday's exhibition opener to make his decision public.
Jordan will not be a replacement player. Schueler, asked if he would send Jordan home should he refuse to play exhibitions, said, ''I treat everybody the same.''
Jordan's decision will be one of the most closely watched of the strike-torn spring because he is the biggest draw while major leaguers are away.
The players' union has said it will consider any minor leaguer playing in exhibitions for which admission is charged to be a strikebreaker.
''I really want to play, it will help my game,'' Jordan said. ''If I was a normal minor leaguer, I would probably play in the games.''
But he's not a normal minor leaguer. He doesn't need the money, he needs the experience and his decision will be based on other factors, including a desire not to be caught in the middle.
The White Sox have about 10 players with prearranged exemptions from the exhibitions. Jordan was not one of them.
Schueler's 10-minute team meeting yesterday morning was informational.
''I explained to them what would happen if they didn't play in games, what we can do, what we can't do,'' Schueler said.
''The next 48 hours I will know who is going to play and who isn't.''
Schueler reiterated that players sent home were not being released and would be called back to minor league camp next month when work was available.
Players booted out of camp are responsible for travel expenses for their trips home and back.
Schueler also said the White Sox have informed the Baltimore Orioles they will not play their three scheduled exhibition games against them. The Orioles, who also train in Sarasota, are using only minor leaguers in camp and have said they will not play against teams using replacements.
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