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Tuesday, July 15
Updated: July 16, 10:47 AM ET
MLB considering plan on Expos' home schedule

Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The Montreal Expos could play their entire home schedule in Puerto Rico next season under a plan being considered by major league baseball.

To raise revenue, the commissioner's office moved 22 of the team's 81 home games this season to Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. Baseball still hasn't come up with a permanent solution for the Expos, who were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season.

While baseball's goal is to have a decision by September, the sport's top officials say they don't feel bound by any deadline.

"Puerto Rico has made a proposal to play all 81 home games in Puerto Rico, and it has not been rejected,'' Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said before the All-Star game Tuesday night.

Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; and Washington, D.C., are all trying to land the Expos on a permanent basis, but baseball owners want to have a complete financing plan for a new ballpark in place before making a decision.

DuPuy said no particular plan was a front-runner at this point, either for a long-term solution or for 2004.

"They could play 81 games in any one of a number of locations,'' he said.

Montreal players have complained of their constant travel this season. They were 32-18 on May 25, then went 8-14 on a trip that ended June 19. They entered the All-Star break 49-45, four games behind Philadelphia, the NL wild-card leader.

"It's been very hard,'' said second baseman Jose Vidro, the NL starter in the All-Star Game. "Me being Puerto Rican, I would love it to be in Puerto Rico, but to tell you the truth, I don't care where we play next season as long as we play 81 games in the same place''

Approval of the players was necessary for baseball to move the 22 home games, and it may be more difficult for management to gain consent for two different home sites next year. Gene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association, declined comment.

The Expos are averaging 12,206 for home games, the lowest in the major leagues. They are averaging 11,133 in Montreal and 14,216 in Puerto Rico, where they have played 16 games.

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