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Baseball notebook

La Russa chides union

‘Pressure’ on Pujols is cited

Mike Stanton takes BP at the Marlins’ new ballpark in Miami, which had its first seat installed yesterday. Mike Stanton takes BP at the Marlins’ new ballpark in Miami, which had its first seat installed yesterday. (J Pat Carter/Associated Press)
Associated Press / February 16, 2011

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Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said yesterday that first baseman Albert Pujols and his representatives are being pressured by the players’ union during contract negotiations.

Pujols is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series and has set a deadline of noon today to reach agreement on a new deal.

Pujols has vowed to cut off negotiations once he arrives at spring training, perhaps today. La Russa said from the team’s spring training site in Jupiter, Fla., he thinks the three-time National League MVP is being pushed to set a new standard with his contract, and he said that’s unfair to the player.

Alex Rodriguez’s $275 million, 10-year deal with the Yankees is baseball’s current high.

“I know what he’s going through with the union and to some extent his representatives because his representatives are getting beat up by the union,’’ La Russa said. “Set the bar, set the bar. You’ve got to deal with it. It’s not the way it should be.’’

Pujols has played his entire 10-season career with the Cardinals and has said he would like to stay with the franchise.

The team announced that 40-year-old Jim Edmonds, who recently signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals, is questionable for the start of spring drills with a left foot injury.

Trump deciding Donald Trump is thinking about investing in the Mets.

The New York real estate owner with a flair for publicity said he wants to help Mets owner Fred Wilpon. Wilpon is under pressure from a lawsuit from the trustee trying to recover money for the victims of the Bernard Madoff swindle.

“I hope that it works out well for the Wilpons because they’re friends of mine,’’ Trump said during a telephone interview. “If they ever needed help, I’d be there to help them. If I could help, I’d love to help them.’’

Trump’s interest was first reported by The New York Times on its website.

A frequent guest in the owners’ box at Yankee Stadium, Trump owned the New Jersey Generals of the US Football League during the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

Fred Wilpon, the Mets’ controlling owner, announced Jan. 28 along with his son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, they were exploring a sale of a share of up to 25 percent because of “uncertainty’’ created by the lawsuit filed by trustee Irving Picard.

The Wilpons said they will not sell a controlling stake, and Trump isn’t known to be a passive investor.

Asked whether he would consider investing without gaining control, Trump said, “I haven’t thought that far down the line. We’ll see.’’

At the Mets’ spring training site in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Jason Isringhausen auditioned for the team with a brief bullpen session.

The 38-year-old reliever hasn’t pitched in a game since elbow-ligament replacement surgery in June 2009, but he and the team agreed on a minor league deal.

Posada unsure The Yankees’ Jorge Posada is not sure whether he will play after this season. Posada, entering the final season of a $52.4 million, four-year contract, is being shifted to designated hitter but also could see limited action at catcher. The 39-year Posada said in Tampa that he’ll assess his physical condition before deciding whether to come back in 2012. If he returns, he’d like to stay with the Yankees . . . Ken Griffey Jr. is returning to the Mariners as a special consultant less than a year after abruptly retiring from baseball. Griffey’s role is still being defined, but he’ll be involved with the Mariners at spring training and the regular season, along with visiting most of the team’s minor league affiliates.

Johnson agrees Kelly Johnson and the Diamondbacks agreed to a $5.85 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration and provided the second baseman with a hefty raise. Johnson hit .284 last season with 26 homers, 71 RBIs, and 36 doubles, and made $2.35 million. When players and teams exchanged figures last month, he had asked for $6.5 million and had been offered $4.7 million . . . Angels manager Mike Scioscia stopped short of choosing Fernando Rodney as his closer, but he made it clear the 32-year-old righthander is at least in the picture and is the most likely to get the first crack at it . . . Padres closer Heath Bell, second in the NL with 47 saves last season, said he missed a bullpen session yesterday for precautionary reasons one day after he injured himself while running during the team’s first workout . . . Rockies lefthander Jorge De La Rosa has cleared up his visa issues and is headed to camp . . . At Kissimmee, Fla., Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, 38, took grounders and got in some swings on the first day of spring training, a big step in his recovery from major knee surgery.

Recording allowed In San Francisco, a federal judge in the perjury case against Barry Bonds has decided to allow an audio recording in which, prosecutors say, the ex-baseball star’s personal trainer discussed his steroids use. Bonds’s lawyers had asked the judge to exclude the recording from his upcoming trial on charges that he lied to a grand jury when he said he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs. They argued that since the personal trainer, Greg Anderson, is refusing to testify, there’s no way to authenticate the topic of discussion. But prosecutors plan on calling to the witness stand Stevie Hoskins, Bonds’s childhood friend and former business partner. Hoskins said he secretly recorded the conversation in March 2003 to convince Bonds’s father that his son was taking steroids. The trial is scheduled to start March 21.

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