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July 17, 2013

Baseball players' union says drug bans likely not served this year

(Continued)

MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred declined comment.

Weiner spoke from a wheelchair and said symptoms have increased in the last month from a brain tumor he was diagnosed with last summer. He currently can’t move his right side or right arm and must use a wheelchair.

Weiner said the union will appoint a deputy executive director within a week or two.

Most of his talk was dominated by the drug investigation.

While most suspensions have been for positive tests since the joint drug agreement was reached in 2002, players also can be penalized for “just cause,” based on other evidence.

“In theory, they could be suspended for five games or 500 games,” Weiner said. “We could then choose to challenge or not, but the commissioner’s office is not bound by the 50-100-life scale.”

If multiple players are disciplined, management and the union would have to decide the order of the grievance hearings.

“They’ve got to prove all those cases. I like Dan Halem, a lot, but he’s going to be running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off,” Weiner said, referring to an MLB senior vice president. “If that’s the circumstance, we’ll just have to schedule them and get them done as quickly as we reasonably can. And if we have the number that you suggest, it’s going to take a while.”

Weiner said the union has taken the position that players can’t be penalized for refusing to answer MLB’s questions in the investigation. Arbitrator Raymond Goetz overturned Bowie Kuhn’s suspension of Ferguson Jenkins in 1980, ruling the pitcher couldn’t be penalized for refusing to answer questions while criminal charges were pending in Canada.

“Obviously we have looked at Jenkins in connection with this matter and whether or not it would apply, and our conclusion is that it clearly does,” Weiner said.

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