BASEBALL : Selig, Fehr Meet Secretly to Try to Renew Negotiations

From Staff and Wire Reports

Amid the media blackout special mediator William J. Usery had suggested, acting Commissioner Bud Selig and union leader Donald Fehr met secretly in Washington on Monday in an effort to regenerate labor negotiations that disintegrated on March 4.

With the meeting apparently still in progress at an undisclosed location Monday night, none of the participants could be reached for comment.

Selig was accompanied by management attorneys Chuck O'Connor and Rob Manfred, sources said. Union attorney Lauren Rich joined Fehr.

It was unclear whether serious negotiating was on the agenda or if Selig and Fehr were deciding whether the complete negotiating teams should convene.

Usery, who attended the meeting, has long considered the media's presence a distraction to meaningful progress and urged Selig and Fehr to meet privately.

Both sides concede it is impossible for a settlement to be reached in time for striking players to play April 2 season openers.

But a management attorney said the season could be shortened to 155 games and delayed two weeks if regular players return.

The union has said it will end the strike if the National Labor Relations Board obtains an injunction forcing the owners to reinstate the terms and conditions of the previous labor agreement.

The NLRB's five-member board will vote on general counsel Fred Feinstein's request to pursue an injunction on Thursday.

The owners are likely to appeal, if an injunction is granted, and to implement a lockout if the union ends the strike without a settlement. However, a lockout requires the approval of 21 clubs, and it's not certain 21 would agree.

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