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Baseball briefs

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 19, 2002


Baseball sues umps on issue of discipline

NEW YORK -- Baseball sued its umpires on Thursday, asking a federal judge for a court order allowing it to discipline John Hirschbeck for telling a member of his crew not to warn a pitcher for intentionally throwing at a batter.

In an eight-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the commissioner's office asked for a declaratory judgment that its attempt to discipline umpires union head Hirschbeck, was not subject to arbitration.

Baseball officials sent Hirschbeck a "warning letter" on May 10, accusing him of misconduct during a game on April 28. Ralph Nelson, a vice president in the commissioner's office, said Hirschbeck told the plate umpire of his game not warn a pitcher when a warning was required by baseball's rules.

Nelson also said Hirschbeck generally tells his crew not to issue warnings without his consent.

In addition, the complaint said baseball's computerized umpire evaluation system showed "a high percentage of missed calls of balls and strikes" during a May 4 game, a performance "clearly not commensurate with abilities," according to Nelson.

LABOR TALKS: As the Athletics voted to give the union's executive board authorization to set a strike date, players and owners resumed labor talks but again avoided the central subjects of increased revenue sharing and a luxury tax that would slow the increase in salaries. A meeting is scheduled today and three more next week.

ASTROS: The team plans to recall right-hander Kirk Saarloos (0-2) from Triple-A New Orleans to start Saturday in Chicago.

BLUE JAYS: Shortstop Felipe Lopez was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and outfielder DeWayne Wise was recalled from Double-A Tennessee. Lopez has struggled this season after being made the everyday shortstop in spring training after Alex Gonzalez was traded.

BRAVES: Catcher Javy Lopez was surprised when he did not play. He laughed when told manager Bobby Cox said Lopez was bothered by a sore groin that limits his running ability. "I guess I won't play for the rest of the season, if that's the reason why," Lopez said. "I don't think he needs my speed out there. I'm not really a fast runner." ... Announcer Skip Caray returned to the booth about 21/2 weeks after having angioplasty to clear an artery.

CUBS: Attorney General John Ashcroft was a guest of Sammy Sosa before the game and played catch with him in foul territory during batting practice.

EXPOS: Frank Robinson denied a Star-Ledger of Newark report that he said he was quitting as manager earlier this week, angry with his players, then was talked out of it by his players. "Nobody convinces me not to do anything that I don't want to do," he said. "I make my own decisions."

RANGERS: Outfielder Rusty Greer likely is out for the season after being transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Greer has pain in his neck, left elbow and hip. He has played only two games since making two diving catches June 2.

ROCKIES: Infielder Greg Norton, out since July 1 with a strained hamstring, was activated. Outfielder Ross Gload of USF was optioned to Colorado Springs.

ROYALS: First baseman Mike Sweeney missed his sixth straight game with lower back stiffness.

TWINS: The team does not expect to sign outfielder Denard Span, its first-round pick, in time for him to play this season. Agents for the former Tampa Catholic product have been in discussions with the club but have not worked out a deal. ... The push for a stadium appears headed back to the state legislature after St. Paul leaders canceled a referendum to approve a tax to fund ballpark construction. Talks broke down when the team wouldn't guarantee to move from Minneapolis if the referendum was approved.

YANKEES: Former top prospect Ryan Bradley, 26, signed a minor-league contract and was assigned to Class A Tampa. ... The crowd of 54,725 on Bernie Williams bobblehead doll day put the Yankees over 2-million. New York moved past Seattle for first in attendance in the majors with an average of 43,163.

-- TIMES WIRES

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