The players from the Boston Red Sox, the defending World Series champion, are threatening to boycott their season-opening games in Japan if the coaching staff is not paid for the trip, the Hartford Courant and several media sources are reporting. The team is scheduled to fly out tonight for Japan, and the trip is considered a marketing bonanza for the team, their opponents the Oakland A’s and Major League Baseball.

Currently, the Red Sox are scheduled to play the Toronto Blue Jays in a spring training game in Fort Myers, FL, the last game before the trip to Japan, but the game is being delayed while the Sox players, team officials and the league discuss the matter. That game was scheduled to start at 12:05 pm EST, and had not started as of press time.

At issue is a decision by the league not to pay the coaching and support staff a $40,000 stipend per individual, and the Red Sox players, in a show of solidarity to those coaches and club house personnel, voted to boycott the Japan trip unless those team employees are paid, according to published reports. The trip includes two games against the A’s this weekend.

Some media have reported that the A’s players, following the Red Sox lead, have reportely voted not to play also if their coaches and staff are not compensated. Other media outlets reported the A’s players supported the Red Sox move but did not technically vote on whether to go.

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Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who was under the impression that the coaches, training staff and others would be paid, had told those employees just that, but then had to go back to them and tell them he was mistaken, something he was quoted as saying “embarrassed” him, the players and staff. According to Francona, coaches and staff from other teams have been compensated when they have made similar trips to Japan for games.

Players and Francona were quoted saying that the league made certain promises to the team, but later backed off those assurances, which led the players to vote to boycott the trip.

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