Baseball negotiators still seeking solution

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE With neither side carrying a new proposal and both suggesting little reason for optimism, baseball negotiators met yesterday in acting commissioner Bud Selig's hometown to restart the stalled talks.

It was the first time representatives of the owners and union met formally since a Feb. 7 visit to the White House, when President Clinton's efforts at settling the dispute were rebuffed.

Mediator W.J. Usery, who shuttled between the two sides then, joined the meetings in Milwaukee, where Selig participated in just his fourth session since the strike began last Aug. 12.

Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris said he hoped the ''suggestions'' issued to the parties by Usery two weeks ago would provide the framework for resuming bargaining. Usery later said his ideas didn't represent a final recommendation.

''That was the last plan on the table,'' said McMorris, one of the five management representatives at this two-day meeting. ''I hope that's the one we work off of.

''I think there's a window here,'' he added a moment later. ''If we made a deal now, we could get this behind us without the potential problems we could have in spring training.''

The ''potential problems'' McMorris referred to could surface March 1, when the California Angels are scheduled to play Arizona State in the first exhibition game.

Union head Donald Fehr says striking major leaguers will consider as a strikebreaker anyone who plays at a major league site or in a game for which admission is charged. Some managers and general managers reacted angrily to the edict, and Cincinnati and Texas have threatened to send minor leaguers home if they balk at playing in exhibitions.

Fehr did not comment again on the matter when he arrived in Milwaukee accompanied only by union lawyer Lauren Rich. Asked why the talks shifted to Milwaukee, Fehr replied: ''Because Bud's here.''

McMorris said he anticipated that Selig ''will take a more active part as we go forward.''

Selig slipped into the afternoon meeting without comment. He was joined at the table by McMorris, Boston Red Sox chief executive officer John Harrington, and major league baseball lawyers Chuck O'Connor and Rob Manfred.

In other strike news, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters president Ron Carey said the union will not cross picket lines at regular-season major league stadiums.

The Teamsters represent drivers for many of the nation's beer distributors. A Carey aide said Teamsters deliver products to 23 of the 26 major league stadiums in the United States.

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