Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Donald Fehr spoke to the Orioles media after holding a one-hour meeting with the players. Not surprisingly, he said, the players were largely concerned with the implications of the national economic downturn and the slow free agent market.
"Basically, we spent some time talking about the economy,'' Fehr said. "People are interested in what is happening with the free agent market and salaries and also the disclosures last week about what went on in 2003."
Fehr didn't use the word collusion, but he did say that the union has monitored the free agent market carefully since the owners were caught colluding to hold down free agent salaries in the mid-1980s.
"We can't talk about internal discussions, but essentially, every year since the middle 1980s we've looked at the market closely,'' he said. "When you have a market like this one -- that seemed to take very long to develop and had fits and starts with significant numbers of players that have yet to sign or haven't -- obviously you look at it a lot more closely.
"When we're finished with that, if there's anything to say, we'll say it. I don't want to make a public comment about it because people would try to draw inferences one way or the other. I'm not ready to have that happen.
He also addressed the call for the release of the 104 names on the list of players who tested positive for steroids during the survey testing of 2003, saying that the players were promised confidentiality and it's the responsibility of the union to protect it.
Looking ahead: I'll have a lot more on this later on the Web site and in tomorrow's print editions of The Sun. I'll have comments from Fehr on my show tonight on WBAL (1090 AM) at six. If you are outside of signal range, go to WBAL.com and click on the "Listen Live" icon.