© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2002
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez offered to slash his record-setting salary if it would help baseball, a novel approach to solving the sport's problems as it moved within a week of another strike.
"I would take a cut in pay -- 30 to 40 percent -- if it would make the game better," the Texas shortstop said Friday, but added: "It's not a very realistic proposition."
Rodriguez's $252-million, 10-year contract is the richest in sports, and many owners have pointed to it as a sign of baseball's imbalance between rich and poor.
Seven days before the threatened Aug. 30 strike date, the sides avoided the key issues. Management said it expects a new proposal from the union today on the key economic elements of a labor deal.
Meanwhile, former commissioner Fay Vincent predicted baseball won't avoid its ninth work stoppage since 1972. Vincent praised commissioner Bud Selig for what owners have achieved in bargaining. Still, he thinks Selig won't stand up to hard-line owners who want a new economic system.
"I think he has done a very good job in this negotiation of getting more from the union than I would have thought possible," Vincent said. "He's in a position to declare victory. That's an enormous achievement.
"If he would just admit 30 percent is a victory and not 90 percent, he would have a victory. ... But I don't think he will do that."
Selig said he was hopeful there would be a deal but didn't go into specifics.
The sides spent Friday discussing issues such as drug testing, the amateur draft, player discipline, scheduling, licensing, medical care and regulations on uniforms, according to Rob Manfred, the owners' chief labor lawyer. While they are not far apart on revenue sharing, they remain divided on the luxury tax, designed to cause high-payroll teams to spend less on players.
It appears any movement is likely to take place in the day or two before the strike deadline, which starts with games Friday afternoon.
"I don't see a lot happening until the last 48 hours, 24 hours," Rodriguez said.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins has written an open letter to baseball, calling for players to continue playing while negotiating a new labor contract.
Jenkins also called for contraction of at least two teams and drug testing.
Jenkins writes in the letter addressed to "Dear Baseball" that he wants to speak up for fans. He wrote: "Play and negotiate, play and negotiate and play and negotiate until you reach a settlement that respects everyone, including the fans who want their team to have stars they can admire for their skilled play."
ANGELS: With Tim Salmon on the disabled list, infielder Chone Figgins of Brandon was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.
ASTROS: Roy Oswalt was suspended for five games and fined for throwing a pitch that hit Chicago's Alex Gonzalez on Aug. 12. The players' association said Oswalt appealed, so the penalty will be delayed until after a hearing.
INDIANS: Catcher Einar Diaz, injured when he got stepped on by Oakland's David Justice in a play at the plate Thursday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The team said Diaz has a strained right elbow and strained triceps. Catcher Josh Bard was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
METS: Fred Wilpon completed his buyout of co-owner Nelson Doubleday, ending their acrimonious partnership after 16 years. Terms were not disclosed. Wilpon sued Doubleday in July, trying to force a buyout at the price set by an appraiser. Doubleday countered with accusations of misconduct between Selig the appraiser. The sides settled last week.
ORIOLES: Erik Bedard, regarded as the organization's top pitching prospect, might need ligament-transplant surgery on his left elbow because of persistent pain that won't allow him to throw. A magnetic resonance imaging test confirmed a small ligament tear, and extended rest hasn't alleviated the discomfort. Bedard recently had to end a side session because of the pain.
PADRES: Minor-league right-hander Carlos Garcia was claimed off waivers and optioned to Class A Fort Wayne of the Midwest League.
PHILLIES: First-round pick Cole Hamels signed after two months of negotiations. The 18-year-old left-hander received a $2-million signing bonus and a college scholarship. He will report Sept. 15 to Florida Instructional League camp in Clearwater.
RED SOX: Centerfielder Johnny Damon, who dislocated his right ring finger diving back to first on a pickoff attempt Thursday, did not play and likely will be out through Sunday.
ROCKIES: Starter Shawn Chacon was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs after losing his past five decisions and left-hander Brian Fuentes was recalled. Chacon is 5-11 with a 5.73 ERA. Rookie right-hander Aaron Cook, one of the organization's top prospects, will move into Chacon's spot Monday against San Francisco.
YANKEES: Manager Joe Torre, saying "I know I'll get a slap for this," thinks Rodriguez is "probably the best player in the game right now" and deserves the MVP award. The Texas shortstop said: "Obviously, it's the ultimate compliment coming from a Hall of Fame manager."