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Weiner expects contract talks to start next spring

March 21, 2010

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TAMPA, Fla.—New baseball players' union head Michael Weiner anticipates talks with Major League Baseball on a new collective bargaining agreement will begin by spring training or perhaps a bit earlier next year.

"Our goal will try to be, in one sense, you always want to have an agreement without a threat of a stoppage," Weiner said on Sunday. "But you also have to have an agreement that works for both sides. I'm sure that everybody will try our best to get a deal done on a kind of timeframe that we did last time. So we'll just have to see how it plays out."

The current agreement expires in December 2011. The deal was announced during the 2006 World Series, about two months before the previous agreement expired.

Weiner and other union officials met with New York Yankees players as part of a tour of spring training camps. The issue of blood testing for HGH was also discussed.

"Our attitude toward any kind of testing, blood or urine, is really the same, that we have to make sure the science is down and with the commissioner's office we will continue to investigate whether the science behind the blood test for HGH is 100 percent sound," Weiner said.

"The test has to be administered in a way that's safe for the players, and obviously drawing blood has complications that don't exist with respect to collecting urine. And the test has to be administered in a way where the players can actually go to work. Drawing blood is harder to do."

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, a former union representative with Detroit, agrees.

"We want to make sure it's accurate," Granderson said. "We definitely are not subjecting the players to something that could be inaccurate, plain and simple."

Expansion of the draft to include international players and the forthcoming recommendations from commissioner Bud Selig's on-field review committee will likely be part of next year's labor talks. Proposals about realignment may also come up.

"We'd be happy to talk about those (ideas) in bargaining," Weiner said

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