Apparently bowing to pressure from the Major League Players Association, the Los Angeles Dodgers have deleted the controversial drug-testing clause from the contract of outfielder Mike Marshall.
But team owner Peter O'Malley maintained that the team reserves the right to include such a clause on a "case-by-case basis" and apparently has exercised that right in the contract of shortstop Bill Russell, which could further jeopardize negotiations on a new collective-bargaining agreement between players and owners.
"Russell's contract will stay as is," O'Malley said.
Announcement of the Dodgers' action concerning Marshall was made in separate statements by the team and Lee MacPhail, president of the owners' Player Relations Committee, which met in New York Friday with representatives of the players' union.
While both the Dodgers and Player Relations Committee made reference to the deletion of the drug-testing clause only in Marshall's case, union sources said the team also deleted the clauses from the contracts of five players who signed earlier this month -- pitcher Ken Howell and outfielders Lemmie Miller, Cecil Espy, Mike Ramsey and Ralph Bryant, the Los Angeles Times reported.
O'Malley denied that the Dodgers had deliberately sought to undermine negotiations. "We knew that there would be some risk," he said, "but we thought our approach was sound and reasonable and fair.
" . . . In (baseball's) Joint Drug Program, there is a side letter where the parties express their differences on the issue (of drug-testing). It's a gray area, not black and white" . . .
In Atlanta, Ted Turner, the Braves' owner and cable television power, has reportedly struck an agreement with Commissioner Peter Ueberroth that will keep the Braves' games coming into homes across the nation. Turner announced he has agreed to make annual payments, reported as high as $30 million over five years, to other major league clubs in exchange for the commissioner's dropping his fight against cable "superstation" broadcasts.
Ueberroth, who succeeded Bowie Kuhn as commissioner last year, came into office saying the superstations represented the most serious threat to big league baseball . . .
Ueberroth held a private meeting with Marge Schott, the prospective buyer of the Cincinnati Reds, to discuss his concerns about her financial ability to run the club, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
The Enquirer quoted an unidentified source as saying the commissioner asked for the meeting "because . . . he wants strong ownership. He is concerned about Schott and the group in Pittsburgh, too."
Schott said her financial condition and ability to run the club were "not really" a topic of discussion. "We really didn't talk about that," she said. "He (Ueberroth) is trying to find out where everybody is coming from."
Schott added she thinks there will be no difficulty in her getting approval from the necessary number of major league club owners.
The Reds announced last month that Schott, a limited partner in the Reds since 1981, would buy the Williams' interest in the club and that of several other minority owners.