In a move that likely will result in Kansas City or Milwaukee switching to the National League next season, baseball owners finally approved a realignment plan Wednesday.
Detroit will go from the A.L. East to the A.L. Central, and the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays will replace the Tigers in the A.L. East. The A.L. team to switch leagues will be designated after the World Series, and owners and officials said the Royals had first choice. If Kansas City declines, Milwaukee has agreed to move, they said.
Owners approved the plan 27-0 during a telephone conference call shortly before Game 6 of the A.L. championship series. The San Francisco Giants, who threatened to sue to block a larger realignment plan, abstained. The two expansion teams were not allowed to vote.
With the switches, the N.L. will have 16 teams next season and the A.L. 14. That enables owners to bunch interleague games into specific periods of the season, as was done this year, the initial season of interleague play.
Pitcher hears better news
Pitcher Alex Fernandez’s rotator cuff injury may be less severe than originally feared, Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland said.
A doctor last week diagnosed Fernandez’s injury as a complete tear, an injury that would sideline him for all of 1998 and threaten his career.
Fernandez sought a second opinion from renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who said the injury was a partial tear. In that case, Fernandez could be pitching again by the middle of next season.
“There are two different opinions on the reading of the MRI,” Leyland said. “One says it’s a total tear. One thinks it’s a partial tear. I think Alex is going to get a third opinion.”
Fernandez is considering arthroscopic surgery to determine the extent of the injury.