Baseball union head Donald Fehr said he thinks the federal government may change the rules for using ephedra within a month.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week proposed strong new warning labels that pills containing the herb ephedra can cause heart attacks and strokes or even kill. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said a full ban was still possible, adding: "This is not the end of the story."
Ephedra was linked by a Florida medical examiner to the death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler on Feb. 17, a day after he collapsed at spring training with heatstroke.
"Given what happened out of HHS on Friday, there may be some changes in the law or regulatory scheme within the next 30 days," Fehr said yesterday after speaking to the Cardinals and Mets, the first Florida stops on his spring training tour of the 30 teams.
Players last year opposed including ephedra among the substances banned by their labor agreement, which prohibits drugs of abuse and certain illegal steroids. Fehr has said the union is awaiting Bechler's full autopsy report before reexamining its stance. . . .
A top baseball official is likely to meet with Pete Rose's business manager, and possibly the banned career hits leader, before the end of spring training.
The meeting, which has not yet been scheduled, will include Robert DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, and Rose manager Warren Greene, a high-ranking baseball official said. It has not been determined if Rose will attend.
The purpose of the meeting is to review where baseball stands on Rose's application for reinstatement, which was filed in 1997. Rose agreed to a permanent ban in August 1989 following an investigation of his gambling. . . .
Forty-seven umpires -- nearly three-quarters of the major league staff -- issued a statement opposing the computer evaluation system proposed by the commissioner's office.
Owners used the Questec system on a trial basis last year and last month proposed to use it to evaluate umpires.
* CUBS: Dusty Baker is going to have to find another time to go fishing.
Major League Baseball announced Baker will manage the National League at this year's All-Star Game, to be played July 15 in Chicago. It will be the first time he has managed an all-star team.
Baseball tradition calls for the managers of the previous season's league champions to manage the all-star teams. Baker guided the Giants to the pennant last year, then left to manage the Cubs. Because he changed teams, some wondered whether Baker would still get to guide the NL squad.
* YANKEES: New York became the first major league team with a $150 million payroll when it renewed the contract of 2B Alfonso Soriano at $800,000.
New York's payroll is $150,360,993 for 24 players likely to be on the Opening Day roster, plus pitcher Jon Lieber, who will be on the disabled list.
* BREWERS: Minor league RHP Augustine Ozorede, 18, was killed in a car accident in his native Nigeria over the weekend, the team said. He had been expected to report to the Brewers' extended spring training program in Arizona in April.