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MLB notebook: Owners want to hold off on playoff expansion

Published: Thursday, Dec. 2 2010 12:37 a.m. MST

Baseball players want owners to hold off on approving a detailed plan for how to expand the playoffs until after the sides can negotiate over the addition of two more wild-card teams.

Union head Michael Weiner consulted with his members this week during his executive board's annual meeting, which is being held in Orlando, Fla.

"Coming out of our meeting, it's our sense that the most productive way to proceed on this topic would be for the parties to engage in discussions before settling on any specific proposals," Weiner said Wednesday during a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Commissioner Bud Selig said following an owners' meeting in mid-November that his special 14-man committee will discuss adding two wild-card teams when it meets Dec. 7 during the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Players have said they are open to the extra round, more likely to be added for 2012 than next year. Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations, said the change would be "a difficult trick to pull off" for 2011 because it would have to be a modification of the current labor contract, which runs through next season.

"The players talked about various aspects of the regular season and postseason schedule," Weiner said. "We considered many different scenarios — both changes and the status quo. The discussion covered all of the factors involved with scheduling, mainly competitive considerations, revenue generation and demands on players. We look forward to engaging in discussions with the owners on these topics."

To expand the playoffs, the sides would have to agree on whether the new wild-card round would be single elimination or best-of-three. They also would have to renegotiate the formula for the postseason pool that is split up among players and figure out how to slot more postseason games into a schedule that has spilled into November in recent seasons.

AT AGE 49, MOYER WILL HAVE ELBOW SURGERY: Jamie Moyer has had Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow and plans to attempt a comeback in 2012 at age 49.

The left-hander had surgery Wednesday in New York to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.

Moyer is 267-204 with a 4.24 ERA during a 23-year major league career. He was pitching in the Dominican Republic in winter ball when he was injured in his third start.

Moyer, a free agent, spent last season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He left his July 20 start in St. Louis when he strained his left elbow after making a pitch.

He has made 30 or more starts in a season 11 times and has reached double figures in wins 15 times, including four of the last five seasons.

The soft-tossing Moyer says he thinks he can still be a successful big league pitcher.

RED SOX IN PURSUIT OF CRAWFORD: A baseball official says the Boston Red Sox have met with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford.

The Red Sox are targeting Crawford as the centerpiece of their offseason shopping. A major-league official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the meeting, confirmed that it took place.

A four-time All-Star, Crawford is one of the top players on the free-agent market. He earned $10 million from the Tampa Bay Rays last season while hitting .307 with 47 stolen bases and career bests of 19 homers, 90 RBIs and 110 runs scored.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and owner John Henry did not immediately respond to e-mails asking about the meeting. It was originally reported on a Yahoo! Sports Twitter feed.

Crawford is the longest-tenured player in Rays history. Over nine seasons, he is the franchise's career leader in batting average, RBIs, hits, doubles, triples, runs scored and stolen bases.

PADRES AGREE TO DEAL WITH DENORFIA: The San Diego Padres have agreed to a one-year contract with outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Denorfia, signed as a minor league free agent last offseason, played in 99 games for the Padres in 2010. He hit .271 with nine homers and 36 RBIs. He made 72 starts, including 44 in center field, 15 in left and 13 in right.

Over parts of five major league seasons with Cincinnati, Oakland and the Padres, he has a .274 average with 12 homers and 55 RBIs.

San Diego announced the deal on Wednesday.

NEW 'SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL' TEAM FORMED: Orel Hershiser, Bobby Valentine and Dan Shulman will form the new announcing team for "Sunday Night Baseball," ESPN announced Wednesday.

The network said last month that Jon Miller and Joe Morgan would not return for a 22nd season.

Hershiser, the 1988 NL Cy Young Award winner, joined the booth as a third announcer last season.

Valentine, the former Mets and Rangers manager, became a studio analyst for ESPN last year. He managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan's Pacific League from 2004-09. He said he had opportunities to return to managing this offseason but preferred to stay at ESPN.

Hershiser played for Valentine with the Mets in 1999.

Shulman has served as a regular play-by-play voice for baseball games on ESPN since 2002. He also calls college basketball with Dick Vitale.

MLB RELEASES DRUG REPORT: Major League Baseball granted 105 exemptions for otherwise-banned stimulants in the last year because of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, virtually unchanged from the previous year's total.

MLB and the players' union released the report Wednesday, covering a period that ended with the World Series.

The ADHD figure has stayed about the same for four years. There were 108 therapeutic use exemptions in 2009, up from 106 TUEs in 2008 and 103 in 2007. Baseball management says the level of ADHD among young males is higher than for the general population.

"My reaction is the same as last year and the year before that," said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency. "It seems to me almost incomprehensible that ADHD is so pervasive in baseball to a degree that it requires medicine."

A frequent critic of baseball's drug-testing program, Wadler said "these numbers really cry out for transparency in the TUE process in baseball — a good look-see at the process, not just the numbers."

Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, said MLB was encouraged "by the low number of positive" tests. "We're always cautious that we're not missing anything."

Manfred emphasized the standards were determined by Smith, not MLB.

There were just two positive tests for steroids in the second full year of the sport's toughened drug program, according to Dr. Bryan Smith, MLB's independent drug-testing administrator. Cincinnati pitcher Edinson Volquez and Florida catcher Ronny Paulino were suspended for 50 games each.

Without saying who tested positive for what, Smith identified the substances as Clomiphene and Oxandrolone.

Among 3,747 tests for major leaguers, up slightly from last year's 3,722, there were 15 positives for stimulants, including 13 for Adderall and one each for Clobenzorex and Phentermine. They were presumably initial positive tests, which don't result in discipline.

ADHD dominated the therapeutic use exemptions that were granted, with only five others approved. Of those, two were for hypertension and one each for hypogonadism, narcolepsy and post-concussion syndrome.

Smith issued the report under toughened rules baseball adopted last year at the recommendation of former Senate majority leader George Mitchell.

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