The curious case of the Lake County Fielders grew curiouser Monday when the troubled baseball team announced it would play at least some of its remaining games against a semipro squad from Kenosha.
That news, from team spokesman Bernie DiMeo, essentially erased the team's much-reported missive from the day before, in which Fielders brass said the squad would play many of its games "against the newly formed Kenosha County Fielders, a team of professional minor leaguers."
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DiMeo stood by the "professional minor leaguers" angle in an interview earlier Monday, too. He even said the Fielders were in the process of signing players for the new team.
But by the afternoon, his tale had changed.
Now the Fielders are set to take on the Kenosha Kings, who bill themselves on their website as "a semipro team that consists of present college players, as well as ex-college and professional players."
"We are a self-funded, nonprofit organization," the Kings website proclaims. "Neither coaches or players are paid or reimbursed for any expenses."
When asked about the change in plans, DiMeo said the development happened Monday. The Kings challenged the Fielders to play, DiMeo explained.
"We're taking the challenge seriously," he said.
The Fielders, part of the independent North American League this season, have 21 games remaining on their 2011 schedule.
Late last week, the league announced it was booting the team because it failed to show up for a series in Hawaii against the Maui Na Koa Ikaika. On Sunday, DiMeo insisted the Fielders still were in the league.
But the Maui team won't be coming to Zion for a planned seven-game series set to start Wednesday, DiMeo said.
And he didn't know if the Yuma Scorpions would be in town for a six-game series scheduled for Aug. 24-29, or if the Edmonton Capitals would visit for eight games planned for Aug. 30 to Sept. 5, including a doubleheader on Aug. 31.
A league spokesman could not be reached Monday.
DiMeo said the Fielders will announce the remaining game schedule Tuesday.
Team owner Richard Ehrenreich did not respond to interview requests Monday.
The team has had a rough season, both on the diamond and off.
In July, manager Tim Johnson and a radio announcer quit over allegations they weren't fully paid.
Zion officials have said the Fielders owe $185,000 in back rent for use of the city's ballpark, which has yet to be completed.
Ehrenreich has said he stopped paying rent on the diamond because there is no hint of a permanent stadium as promised.
An Aug. 4 game was suspended after the Fielders were accused of providing subpar baseballs for the contest against the Calgary Vipers.