Proving that some deadlines are more elastic than others, the Dodgers have turned off the timer for Steve Sax and Mike Marshall and reopened negotiations with the two free agents.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, meanwhile, reported that they had offered Sax a 3-year deal believed to be in the $3-million range.Dodger Executive Vice President Fred Claire, who had said he would offer only arbitration to Sax and Marshall after they did not sign before the team's self-imposed deadline last Friday, talked with both players and their agent, Jerry Kapstein, for several hours Thursday after reopening discussions the day before.

"There was a deadline, but we removed it to try and go the extra mile," Claire said.

The Dodgers had offered both players $2.3 million for two seasons, with an option for a third season that made each total package worth $3.2 million. The third year was not guaranteed, however.

Sax reportedly was asking for $3.95 million for three years, Marshall $3.8 million for the same period.