BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE MAJOR LEAGUES : Owners Hire New Negotiator

Associated Press

Randy Levine was hired as baseball's chief labor negotiator and vowed to succeed where his four predecessors failed.

Levine has been New York City labor relations commissioner since January 1994. He worked in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration and as a lawyer for the New York Yankees. He said he even hoped to get a deal with the union by the start of the playoffs on Oct. 3.

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In an attempt to salvage a disappointing tenure with the Colorado Rockies, pitcher Bret Saberhagen wants to return to the rotation next week at Dodger Stadium. The Rockies start a three-game series against the Dodgers on Monday.

On Saturday, Saberhagen made his second start in three weeks, but left after three innings because of soreness in his right shoulder. Saberhagen's rotator cuff is swollen and his tendinitis is bothering him, but an MRI test showed no structural damage.

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A coin flip gave Colorado home-field advantage against the Dodgers in a one-game playoff for the National League West title Oct. 2 if the teams are tied at the end of the regular season.

In coin flips to determine home sites in the AL West if tie-breaker playoff games are needed, it would be: Angels at Seattle; Texas at Angels; or Texas at Seattle. In the event of a two-way tie for the AL wild-card berth, it would be: Seattle at Angels, New York, Kansas City or Oakland; or Texas at Seattle. Also, it would be: Angels, Texas or Kansas City at New York; and New York at Oakland. Kansas City would be at Texas or Angels; and Oakland would be at Kansas City. Texas or Oakland would be at Anaheim, and Texas would be at Oakland.

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Ken Griffey Jr. has been offered $12 million to play one season for an undisclosed Japanese team and endorse the sponsoring company's products, according to the Seattle center fielder's agent.

Griffey's contract expires in 1997 and both sides are working on a contract extension. Griffey hopes to stay in Seattle, where the Mariners are making their first bid for postseason play, said attorney Brian Goldberg.

King County voters will decide today whether to increase the sales tax to help finance a new retractable-roof stadium for the Mariners.

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