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WSI News - News Watch

Selig to address players

January 8th, from the Associated Press

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig planned to address a negotiating committee of players on Wednesday, a day after the union and owners resumed collective bargaining talks.

The sides met for about an hour on Tuesday, the first talks since negotiations to settle the union's grievance on Selig's contraction plan broke down last month.

"It's clear he's the guy who has to be involved if anything is going to get done," union head Donald Fehr said, adding he would go into greater detail after Wednesday's session.

Owners have not publicly disclosed their demands, but Selig repeatedly has called for an overhaul of baseball's economic system, saying low-revenue teams no longer can compete with the sport's big spenders. He advocates an increase revenue sharing among teams and restraints on player salaries, but has not gone into details publicly.

Selig gave Fehr a brief outline on Dec. 3, which owners later memorialized in writing.

"In many areas, what they want to do is not with enough specificity to bite into," Fehr said. "We'll see after tomorrow if that is the case."

Rob Manfred, management's top labor lawyer, told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the meeting was "productive" and that they "covered some groundwork issues."

Neither side has threatened a work stoppage -- which would be baseball's ninth since 1972.

Union lawyer Michael Weiner said contraction was discussed at Tuesday's session.

While owners haven't identified the teams they want to eliminate, the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos are the most likely candidates. A Minnesota judge has stalled the contraction plan by issuing an injunction, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals hasn't ruled on the request by Selig and the Twins to lift the court order.

The grievance hearing is scheduled to resume Thursday.

Tony Clark, Damion Easley, Jason Grimsley, Rick Helling, Al Leiter, Mark Loretta and Mike Myers attended the bargaining session. Management's delegation was led by Paul Beeston, baseball's chief operating officer, and Manfred.

The union had a low-key reaction to the disclosure that Selig and a company controlled by Twins owner Carl Pohlad arranged for a $3 million loan to Selig's Milwaukee Brewers in 1995.

"There are no players involved in this transaction. I see it as largely an internal club matter," said Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official. "How they resolve it might leave its mark on interpretations on (rules) that involve players but, frankly, since it doesn't involve players, I don't give a damn."

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