Japan’s baseball owners have decided to reject Major League Baseball’s World Cup concept in which the U.S. commissioner’s office and the Major League Baseball Players Association would be in charge of the tournament.

“The owners object to Major League Baseball hosting the event and feel a third party like the International Baseball Federation should be in charge,” said an official from the Japanese office of the commissioner, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Japan’s owners also object to the fact that under the proposed plan, the U.S. commissioner’s office and the Major League Baseball Players Association would split profits after expenses and payments to teams.

If Major League Baseball owners approve the plan and deals are reached with the players’ association and the International Baseball Federation, the 16-nation tournament would take place from approximately March 4-21 next year.

Japan’s owners also have reservations about the timing of the event.

The regular season in Japan usually starts in the final week of March or the first week of April, and players who take part in the World Cup would have less than 1 1/2 weeks of exhibition games with their clubs.

Officials from the major league commissioner’s office prefer to have the tournament before their season rather than in November, after the World Series.

Merger plans

Acting Lotte Marines owner Akio Shigemitsu said Thursday the Pacific League club will consider a merger offer from another baseball team but denied that a merger plan involving the Marines is in the pipeline.

“We are ready for cooperation, honestly, for the sake of Japanese baseball,” Shigemitsu said, referring to the revelation Wednesday by Seibu Lions owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi that the Marines, Lions, Daiei Hawks and Nippon Ham Fighters are negotiating a merger between two of them.

Several baseball sources said later Wednesday that a merger plan is actually in progress between the Hawks and Marines in addition to the ongoing merger talks between another Pacific League pair, the Orix BlueWave and Kintetsu Buffaloes.

“No offers have been made to us and we have yet to make an offer, either,” Shigemitsu said. “But we will deal with an offer, if any, in an open-minded manner.”

Meanwhile, Daiei and Nippon Ham officials ruled out the possibility that both teams will seek a merger.

Oh to skipper Japan

Daiei Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh will lead Japan against a team of major league All-Stars in an eight-game exhibition series in November, baseball officials said Thursday.

Oh was selected to skipper a 28-man team, that could possibly face major leaguers such as Cincinnati Reds superstar Ken Griffey Jr., for the series to be held in five cities.

Twenty-eight players will be chosen for each team.

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