The city of San Jose is now free to pursue in a federal appeals court its lawsuit against Major League Baseball for blocking the A's move to the South Bay, a federal judge said Friday.

In a tentative ruling, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose said the city can immediately bring its antitrust arguments before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals instead of waiting for other parts of its case to be decided. The judge said he would issue a formal decision in several days.

In an earlier ruling, Whyte, invoking baseball's long-questioned but legally entrenched exemption from antitrust laws, had batted down the city's attempt to lift the major leagues' blockade on the A's bid to move south.

"I think this is a very good day for San Jose," said Joseph Cotchett, an attorney representing the city. "This is a case of significant importance, and it should go to the next level."

San Jose sued Major League Baseball in June to challenge rules that require approval from three-fourths of the teams for a franchise to move within another team's territory. The Giants, whose territorial rights include Santa Clara County, have objected to the move.