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DODGERS SPRING REPORT

Union files grievance over player donations

Labor group is challenging whether charitable donations, such as those given by Manny Ramirez and other Dodgers, can be required as part of a contract.

March 22, 2009|Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez

GOODYEAR, ARIZ. — The "Ramirez Provision" has been put into jeopardy, as the players' union has filed a grievance challenging whether charitable donations can be required as part of a contract.

"I find it odd, in these challenging times, that we encounter a complaint against the idea of players giving back to the communities that support them," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said Saturday.

As part of his new two-year, $45-million contract, Manny Ramirez agreed to donate $500,000 per year to the Dodgers' charitable foundation. McCourt said he would implement the "Ramirez Provision," asking players to make a donation, at an amount of their choosing, as part of all future contracts.

The union filed a grievance Friday against 22 clubs, including the Dodgers and Angels, claiming that at least 109 players should not have to make a combined $6 million in charitable donations this season, according to Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president of labor resources.

Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, did not return messages from The Times.

He told the Associated Press: "Players are free to choose to make donations to club charities, but clubs can't require such donations by contract."

Manfred said those donations were freely negotiated and rejected the union claim that such donations offer no contractual benefit to a player.

"It's really like welching on a deal," Manfred said. "The theory that a charitable donation does not provide a potential benefit to a player is shocking to us."

Manfred said the Dodgers did not clear the "Ramirez Provision" with the league office but said the clause complied with the collective bargaining agreement. If a player did not wish to donate, Manfred said, the Dodgers could decide whether to proceed with the contract or release the player.

There is no arbitration hearing set to decide the grievance, Manfred said.

The Dodgers signed four players other than Ramirez this off-season who agreed to make donations to the Dodgers Dream Foundation: Casey Blake ($25,000 per year over three years), Rafael Furcal ($100,000 per year over three years), Orlando Hudson ($25,000) and Randy Wolf ($20,000).

McDonald shines

Wanting to exhaust every in-house possibility in the search for a fifth starter and bullpen reinforcements, Manager Joe Torre scratched Hiroki Kuroda from his scheduled start Saturday so he could look at some pitchers who are battling to make the club.

Pitchers like James McDonald, who offered a glimpse of promise by tossing three scoreless and nearly spotless innings in the Dodgers' 6-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

McDonald's lone blemish was a walk to Jamey Carroll in the first inning that he quickly atoned for by forcing Travis Hafner to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Torre said McDonald would start again in five days.

McDonald, 24, was a September call-up last year and a surprise inclusion on the playoff roster. But until Saturday, he had a 1-2 record and 7.71 earned-run average in five spring-training games.

"I felt like I was more relaxed," McDonald said. "I think I put too much pressure on myself at points."

Kuroda pitched in a minor league game.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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