MLB hopes Ariz. law won't hurt ASG

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the state of Arizona passed its controversial immigration law last spring, the ripple effect extended to baseball. The Major League Baseball Players Association issued a statement condemning the law, with executive director Michael Weiner urging that the law "be repealed or modified promptly."

Hundreds of players, Weiner said in a statement, "could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal. Each of them must be ready to prove, at any time, his identity and the legality of his being in Arizona."

Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, then with the San Diego Padres, also created a stir when he was quoted as saying he probably wouldn't play in the All-Star Game, which is scheduled to be held in Phoenix, because of the law. Gonzalez, who is Mexican-American, said if it was up to him, teams would not conduct spring training in the state because of what he perceived to be the discriminatory nature of the law.

Since then, the state has made some modifications to the law, and on Monday, during his tour of spring-training camps that brought him here, Weiner said the union is hopeful that players selected to the game choose to attend.

Gonzalez, in previously unpublished comments he made to ESPNBoston.com shortly after his trade to the Red Sox, said he plans to go if picked.

"The first time I heard about that law, they told me the 'Readers Digest' version, a really quick version, and I was, 'Wow, I don't agree with it,'" he said. "The more I read I still didn't agree with it, and then the next day somebody came up saying there have been players who have said because of the law they might not play. I said that if players that I look up to and admire aren't going to play, then I'll follow suit, but I'm not going to be the one to set that precedent.

"But obviously it wasn't written that way. It came out and made it seem like I wouldn't play. Then I talked to the players' association about it. I'm a big part of the association. They were like, 'Hey, we're going to ask everybody to play. It's still up to you if you want to play, but we're not going to get into the political end of it.'"

Gonzalez said he is not "big into politics."

"If I'm invited to the All-Star Game, I'm playing," he said. "That law has been tweaked a little, I hear, so it's a lot better than it was in the beginning. That's something I'm not going to get into at any point going forward."

Weiner said the union will leave it to individual players to decide who will play in the All-Star Game, but made clear that the union hopes those selected will attend.

"Players have the individual choice under the Basic Agreement whether to play in the All-Star Game," he said. "The All-Star Game is the midsummer classic. It's the showcase for everybody in baseball. I hope and I think all the players hope that conditions are such that the best players in the game feel comfortable going to play there.

"We're going to do what we can to make that the case. It's not in anybody's interest to have great players not going to the All-Star Game. We hope everybody goes and that conditions permit that, but it is an individual choice."

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.