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Player proposals expected next week


NEW YORK -- While negotiators for the baseball players continue to ask questions about the owners' proposals, the owners' negotiators continue to wait for the players' first proposals.

"We didn't get a proposal," Richard Ravitch, the clubs' chief labor executive, said yesterday after the two sides held a two-hour bargaining session. "I'm awaiting a proposal. Don told me we'd get one next week. I've waited this long. There's nothing I can do about it."

Donald Fehr, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association, said the union planned to present its proposals at a meeting next Thursday, after the union executive board meets in Pittsburgh on Monday, the day before the All-Star Game.

Those proposals are expected to follow the elements of past collective bargaining agreements rather than address the owners' desire for a salary cap.

Asked how he would feel about that likely development, Ravitch said he would not comment on it until he saw the proposal.

But, he added: "I want to make this abundantly clear. We have one overriding objective. We want to know what it's going to cost us to play ball. The way the owners feel, it makes sense is to divide revenues on a percentage basis, a salary cap. But I'm open to hear what the union has to say. Whether they come back with alternatives to a salary cap, or modifications, I hope they respond to our fundamental need. It's critical to the game that that change occur."

Fehr said union negotiators planned to go through the owners' salary cap proposal at the next bargaining session tomorrow.

At yesterday's meeting, Fehr said, the union representatives asked the owners' negotiators to fill in details on their proposals for a joint licensing program, the amateur draft and the ability of the owners to have greater flexibility in international play.

Expansion was also a topic of discussion.

"Their position is we should agree on terms of expansion so they can expand," Fehr said. "We asked for information on how they determine the expansion fees."

Talks have moved at an exceedingly slow pace. The owners presented their salary cap proposal June 14, five months after they agreed to their own revenue-sharing plan, which is contingent on the players' acceptance of a salary cap. Now, more than three weeks later, the two sides plod forward with questions and answers about that proposal and others.

The players, meanwhile, are voting this week in individual team units to authorize their executive board to set a strike date at its discretion. The board, which is made up of player representatives from each of the 28 teams, had been expected to set a strike date at its meeting next Monday, but Fehr has said he will recommend that the board take that action at a later time.

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