- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GLENDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams says talk of $30 million-a-year players is “asinine” and he would support a work stoppage to bring fiscal sanity.

Williams doesn’t want a stoppage but said the sport’s future needs to be protected for fans and smaller markets.

In an earlier interview with Comcast SportsNet, Williams said discussion of a $30 million average salary was “asinine.” He said baseball has reached the point of no return and something needs to happen.

With St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols eligible for free agency after the World Series, there has been speculation he could be the first with a $30 million average salary. Williams said Tuesday his comments were not personally directed at Pujols.

“I said what I said. I said what I felt,” Williams said as he sat in his golf cart watching his team’s first full-squad workout.

His comment about a shutdown drew attention.

“Do I want that? Who does? Come on. Come on. This is a game where millions upon millions of people watch on television and come to the ballpark to get away from some of the things that are going on in life, to have a little bit of entertainment,” Williams said. “That’s all I’m saying. That’s exactly what I’m saying, is that we have to protect that. We are stewards of the game and we have to protect it.”

In his interview with Comcast, Williams said: “For the game’s health as a whole, when we’re talking about $30 million players, I think it’s asinine.”

“We have gotten to the point of no return. Something has to happen. And if it means the game being shut down for the sake of bringing sanity to it, to franchises that aren’t going to stop the insanity, I’m all for it. … You’re not going to get any disagreement from me or argument from me if the game is shut down for a while until something is put in place where there is some sort of (salary) cap on the board.”

While discussing his reasoning, Williams mentioned championship teams from Oakland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the ‘70s and Kansas City in the ‘80s as small markets that helped popularize baseball.

“I think it’s important that the people and the cities that I just mentioned and many more have just as much chance to hope and dream about their team winning a World Series as anybody else,” he said. “Right now that’s not happening.”

Asked about a White Sox payroll that could exceed $125 million this season, Williams said the White Sox might operate at a loss this year. Chicago signed Adam Dunn to a $56 million, four-year contract and brought Paul Konerko back for three years at $37.5 million.

“Hell no, I’m not comfortable with the payroll right now. We’re out on a limb. But that’s our choice,” he said. “We made the choice in an effort to give our fans hope and give ourselves a chance to compete for a championship. If things don’t fall our way, if we don’t get the support, we’ll lose money.”

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