UMPIRES MAKE ANOTHER OFFER

THE BALTIMORE SUN

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Union head Richie Phillips said locked-out major league umpires will return immediately if owners agree to continue talks until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, USA Today reported today.

"I don't think the differences are that huge," said Phillips, optimistic a settlement can be reached before the regular season begins Tuesday night. "It's been narrowed to $100,000 a year for each club."

Owners negotiator Robert Kheel did not share Phillips' optimism. vTC "They dropped their demands of increases from 53 percent to 41 percent, which I continue to think is excessive," Kheel said.

Exhibition games have been going on with replacement umpires since the beginning of spring training, when owners began using replacement players.

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