Union, Mitchell at odds over former player interviews

The players' association and Sen. George Mitchell, who is conducting Major League Baseball's steroid investigation, are butting heads again -- this time over whether Mitchell should be required to notify the union in advance before he attempts to interview or request documents from former players.

In a memorandum Monday to agents and players -- a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.com -- union head Donald Fehr said Mitchell had agreed to notify the MLBPA before requesting interviews with or documents from current players. However, he has "refused to give the MLBPA notice as to most former player interviews," Fehr said in the memo. If a former player requests to have the union participate, though, Mitchell has agreed to honor that request, Fehr said.

So the union is asking all players and former players to decline to speak with the invetigators without consulting "both with a personal lawyer and with an MLBPA lawyer."

Here's a copy of the relevant portions of the memo:

"As you know, and as we discussed in an e-mail we sent you May 5, 2006, Bud Selig has designated former Sen. George Mitchell to conduct an investigation into alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs by baseball players. In connection with this investigation, Sen. Mitchell and his law firm, DLA Piper, are now contacting current and former players to request documents or to arrange investigatory interviews.

"The MLBPA will be given advance notice and a right to participate in all interviews with current players. We have requested the same for former players. Sen. Mitchell has refused to give the MLBPA notice as to most former player interviews. He has agreed to honor any request from a former player for MLBPA participation at a former player's interview.

"We think that no current or former player should speak with Sen. Mitchell or his investigative team, even for the purpose of scheduling an interview, without legal representation. We further believe that any current or former player contacted should consult both with a personal lawyer and with an MLBPA lawyer before determining how to respond to any request for documents or an interview."

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.