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Union officials to brief Orioles

Representatives of the Major League Baseball Players Association will brief the players on union business this afternoon at 1:30. MLBPA officials annually make a tour of major league camps to update and advise membership on the major issues facing the union.

Love to be a fly on the wall during that meeting. I'm pretty sure the union guys will ask the players to refrain from making public comments about the steroid scandal that might affect future collective bargaining negotiations. They couldn't have been happy when Red Sox star David Ortiz said last week that steroid users should be suspended for an entire season for a first positive test.

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Under the current plan, first-time offenders get a 50-game ban. The penalty doubles for a second offense and a player can be banned for life for testing positive a third time.

No doubt, commissioner Bud Selig would be happy to increase penalties again, but the union was resistant to the original testing plan (which imposed only a 10-game suspension for a first positive) and had to be leveraged by Congress and public opinion to go along with the increased penalties in place now.

If we can corner one of the union officials before or after the meeting, I'll be curious to hear the union's take on the Stanford Group investment scandal, which has impacted several Orioles players, including top prospect Matt Wieters, and also the union's reaction to this winter's soft free agent market.

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