The Associated Press
NEW YORK Ä Don't look for a quick settlement when baseball talks resume today.
As the strike completed its 12th day, delegations from both sides met separately yesterday with federal mediators. In a change, the parties decided all 12 members of management's negotiating pool will attend today's session along with more than 18 players.
"If they stick with a salary cap, players are going to play a lot of golf and have fun," Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Brett Butler said.
"There's not that much optimism right now," Kansas City Royals pitcher David Cone said. "There's no reason to expect anything substantial tomorrow."
Three owners and nine other management officials will attend the session, the first since players struck Aug. 12. Fourteen more games were canceled yesterday, raising the total to 154.
"It is very much a step in the right direction that the stakes holders Ä as they have been referred to Ä the owners and the players, will sit down with each other and have a dialogue," management negotiator Richard Ravitch said after his side talked with mediators for 3 1/2 hours.
Owners, by their own choice, had refused to attend bargaining sessions. But they changed their stance after federal mediators asked them to last week.
Ravitch said owners will stick to their salary-cap proposal, which has caused baseball's eighth work stoppage since 1972. He said owners want to have a fixed figure or percentage of revenue assigned to player compensation.
"No we're not going to change our view on that tomorrow," he said.
Boston Red Sox chief executive officer John Harrington, the spokesman for the management group, left out a possibility that owners could refer to other plans they've considered.
"We've looked at other alternatives," he said. "We're willing to discuss them also."
Players made clear that no progress is possible as long as owners insist on a cap.
"Once you take the salary cap off the table, we're willing to talk about all aspects of the game," Butler said. "But that's got to come first."
Harrington said the 12-member management delegation has the authority to enter into a tentative agreement, subject to ratification by at least 21 of the 28 clubs. But no one on either side expects that will happen any time soon.
After players met with mediators for nearly two hours, more than a dozen stood behind union head Donald Fehr as he spoke at a news conference. Fehr said the players will voice their objection to a salary cap directly to the management delegation and tell officials "why we think that it's a mistake not only for them but for the industry as well."
Fehr continued to attack management, saying "all of their public statements are choreographed."
Ravitch and Fehr were to continue their public debate later Tuesday night on CNN, appearing jointly with Labor Secretary Robert Reich. At his midday news conference, Ravitch for the first time in these talks threw a barb at Fehr.
"Don said yesterday I've never run a team," Ravitch said. "I've never seen Don's picture in a uniform or on a playing card either."
Players, who have lost about $53 million in salary since the strike began, said money wasn't the issue.
"We like the idea of in a free agent year not worrying about what a salary cap looks like," Jay Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates said. "We want to go to the teams where we want to go to."
In the past, players have come away from bargaining meetings feeling that management was insulting their intelligence. Some said they hope that won't happen at Wednesday's session.
"If the owners think we're ... dumb jocks or don't understand the issues, they're sadly mistaken," Atlanta pitcher Tom Glavine said.