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Union agrees to drug policy

Associated Press

NOTES

Baseball players are willing to again toughen the sport’s drug policy, offering to accept a 20-game penalty instead of 10 days for first-time steroid offenders, along with tests for amphetamine use.

The proposal, outlined Monday in a letter from union head Donald Fehr to Commissioner Bud Selig, fell short of what management wants. In an April 25 letter to the union, Selig called for a 50-game suspension for an initial positive test, a 100-game ban for second-time offenders and a lifetime ban for a third violation.

Nine players received 10-day suspensions this year under the MLB program, with Baltimore’s Rafael Palmeiro the most prominent.

“Doubling it is good,” Orioles player representative Jay Gibbons said before Monday night’s game against the New York Yankees. “I think 10 is a little light.

“Ten you can get away with as a team. You can do without a guy for 10 days, but 20, you’re kind of hurting your ballclub, too.”

Burnett apologizes

Florida Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett apologized for the comments that led to his banishment, and with free agency looming, his agent conceded the episode could be costly.

Manager Jack McKeon told Burnett 30 minutes before Monday’s game to leave. The right-hander will continue to be paid but won’t be with the Marlins the final week of the season.

The move came after Burnett lost his sixth decision in a row Sunday, then said the Marlins play scared because McKeon and his staff are too negative.

Clearing the bases

Larry Walker returned to the St. Louis Cardinals’ lineup, five days after receiving a fourth cortisone shot for a herniated disc in his neck. … With the San Francisco Giants still alive in the N.L. West race, ace Jason Schmidt will start tonight against the San Diego Padres. … Byron “Mex” Johnson, 94, a shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro leagues and Satchel Paige’s traveling team, died Saturday of prostate cancer in Denver.

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