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BASEBALL LABOR : Talks to Be Resumed by Usery


Baseball's labor talks will resume in Washington today with what is expected to be mostly a procedural session with special mediator William J. Usery. Daily negotiations are not likely to begin until next week and there is no indication of a change in positions by either side.

"I don't have any reason to believe Bud Selig has changed his mind one bit, but hope springs eternal," union lawyer Eugene Orza said Tuesday in reference to the acting commissioner and the owners' quest for a salary cap.

Selig confirmed that there has been no change in the owners' proposal and said he would honor Usery's desire for a gag rule on negotiating specifics. Selig said the mediator has already been in contact with both sides.

"He has a lot of catching up to do and he's doing that aggressively," Selig said. "I've talked to him a half-dozen times already. He's very tenacious, very hands on, and I think there'll be a lot of meetings once he gets going."

In the meantime, 17 more players filed for free agency Tuesday, among them Bo Jackson and Rex Hudler of the Angels. The Dodgers picked up the 1995 option on Jeff Treadway but did not offer arbitration to pitcher Kevin Gross, who had free agent repeater rights and now becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Fred Claire, Dodger vice president, said the club retains interest in re-signing Gross but not through arbitration, a process in which the Dodgers would be unable to hold the line on his $2.7-million salary.

"We're not closing the door on Kevin, but we recognize he has other doors now as a free agent," Claire said.

In today's negotiating meeting with Usery, management lawyers Richard Ravitch and Chuck O'Connor will be accompanied by 11 of the 12 members of Selig's original negotiating team: general counsel Wendy Selig-Prieb of the Milwaukee Brewers, owner Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago White Sox, owner Jerry McMorris of the Colorado Rockies, CEO John Harrington of the Boston Red Sox, president Andy MacPhail of the Chicago Cubs, president David Glass of the Kansas City Royals, owner Drayton McLane of the Houston Astros, executives Stan Kasten and Bill Bartholomay of the Atlanta Braves, executive vice president David Montgomery of the Philadelphia Phillies, and retired president Stuart Meyer of the St. Louis Cardinals.

President Paul Beeston of the Toronto Blue Jays had a previous commitment.

Orza said six or seven members of the players' negotiating committee would attend the first negotiating session since Sept. 9 and only the fourth since the strike began on Aug. 12.

Although there has been some speculation that Usery will be the means by which the owners save face and eventually back off of the salary cap, an attorney familiar with the situation said the owners still seem determined to implement their proposal unilaterally.

"Both sides are in a box they can't get out of," he said. "The players will never approve a cap, and the owners have already wiped out the season and World Series. They aren't going to change directions now."

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