MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner yesterday "made the first stop of his annual tour of spring training clubhouses, meeting with the St. Louis Cardinals for more than the planned 90 minutes," according to Derrick Goold of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The MLB CBA is set to expire after the '11 season, and Weiner said that the "heft of his presentation to the Cardinals was about bargaining, about the CBA and about the calendar ahead." Weiner, who will "make his way around Florida spring training sites in the next couple weeks," confirmed that he "expects to talk with MLB at least twice during spring training." But he added that "momentum" for a new CBA "likely won't build until the regular season." Weiner "declined to discuss specific issues that he'll look to address or resolve with the next round of bargaining," though he said that he "expects entry-level players, expanding the draft to international lands and even the use of smokeless tobacco to be discussed." Weiner: "I don't think either side is looking to fundamentally change the way contracts are negotiated in baseball" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/22). He added of a new CBA, "I know we're prepared to try to get it done. I'm confident that ownership is prepared to try to get it done as well" (USA TODAY, 2/22).
PLAYERS UNITED: Cardinals P and player rep Kyle McClellan said of the MLBPA, "Between our veterans and our leaderships, we're very aware of the past. People talk about '94. They talk about what we had to do to gain things and hang onto them. That's the difference between us and everyone else -- solidarity." YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan noted one Cardinals player indicated that he received a licensing check of $6,500 from the union, down 80% from a typical licensing check of about $40,000. That "didn't rest well with him," but he "didn't begin to question the union using the money to build up a war chest in case labor negotiations don't go as planned." The player: "I trust them. We don't want to end up like the NFL where we're losing our leverage because players are going out and spending their money. I'm fine giving up money for the good of the union." Meanwhile, MLB sources have indicated that they will "pursue a worldwide draft during bargaining sessions," but Weiner said, "The idea of a worldwide draft -- while not prejudging what happens at the bargaining table -- is difficult. We're prepared to talk about reforming how all entry-level players come into the game. The logistics of applying a unitary draft to players from such varying conditions, though, is tough" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/21).
GOING COLD TURKEY? MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince noted the "smokeless tobacco trend is generating discussion" as MLB and the MLBPA near negotiations. U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) both are "calling for an outright ban." MLB "must sign off on" a ban, but there is "growing reason ... to suspect it will." Castrovince: "We could very well be entering the final season in which smokeless tobacco use is so noticeably present in the game" (MLB.com, 2/21).