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Thursday, July 11
Updated: July 15, 7:07 PM ET
Baseball says all teams will meet July 15 payroll

By Darren Rovell

NEW YORK -- A top baseball executive says he believes no team will miss paying its players on July 15, a day after commissioner Bud Selig indicated that was a possibility.

But Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's chief operating officer, said that the possibility exists later this season.

"I believe that the immediate crisis has been solved regarding the team that could have missed payroll (on July 15)," DuPuy said.

Selig raised that possibility during interviews Wednesday. He said that one team might not be able to make its payroll, and a second team had so much debt it might not finish the season.

The team that was in financial crisis took out a loan for an undisclosed amount to help meet payroll, a baseball source with knowledge of the transaction told

John McHale Jr., baseball's executive vice president of administration, declined to verify whether or not the troubled team took out a loan.

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian reports that a baseball source told him that a team came close a few weeks ago to missing payroll, but did so without needing a loan.

The reports on teams in financial trouble came as baseball prepared to resume labor negotiations in New York following an All-Star break dominated by talk of strike, steroids and the Midsummer Classic's stalemate. The sides were to meet Thursday but are now expected to talk Friday.

The Chicago Tribune, citing an unnamed, highly placed Major League Baseball source, reported Thursday that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are one of two teams experiencing cash-flow problems so severe it may not be able to finish the 2002 season.

According to the Tribune, the other team, which the source did not identify, was trying to solve an immediate crisis. DuPuy indicated that crisis is over.

"There are legitimate concerns about some clubs," said DuPuy. "It's not like a small mom-and-pop store that puts a sign on the door that's says, 'Out of Business.' It's much more complicated than that when you have creditors to take care of and a schedule to arrange."

Selig did not identify the teams he was referring to, and there was no way to corroborate his claims. DuPuy would neither confirm or deny the Devil Rays were one of the teams Selig was talking about.

Jim Anderson, a spokesperson for the Detroit Tigers, denied any rumors his team was in trouble. Rumors had surfaced that the Tigers might be in financial difficulties after the team traded pitcher Jeff Weaver -- and his $2.35 million salary -- to the New York Yankees.

"We are in fine shape and will not miss payroll," Anderson said. "The Jeff Weaver trade and any future trades will not be financially motivated. They will be made to make our ballclub better."

The Houston Chronicle reported in Thursday's editions that Selig might have arranged to keep the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays alive financially this past winter, according to its industry sources. The commissioner didn't name which teams are in financial trouble, but said one of them "will surprise you," according to the paper.

"The press reports that suggest that we cook the books and just make up numbers is total nonsense," DuPuy said. "The losses are very real and there are teams working extremely hard to meet their expenses."

Reached at his home Wednesday night, Selig refused to discuss the subject.

"I'm done. Major League Baseball's credit lines are at the maximum," Selig told the Chronicle. "We've done everything we can to help people by arranging credit lines. Frankly, at this point in time, we don't have that luxury anymore.

"If a club can't make it, I have to let 'em go. I'm a traditionalist, and I hate all that. It pains me to do it. I just don't have any more alternatives.''

"I think Bud made it clear that baseball's ability to help out clubs is over," DuPuy told on Thursday.

Baseball is obviously concerned about a team filing for bankruptcy. DuPuy, however, said there are some contingencies.

"In 1993, Eli Jacobs (who had controlling interest in the Baltimore Orioles) filed for bankruptcy," he said. "When it sold in the bankruptcy court, it was subject to (Major League) Baseball's approval. We preinterviewed and reviewed bidders and then approved Peter Angelos as the next owner.

"A team bankruptcy would be complicated, but I do not agree that baseball would lose any control (over who buys it)."

Players and owners have not held a full negotiating session since June 27, and are far apart on all the key issues: increase revenue sharing among teams, the owners' proposal for a luxury tax to slow payroll growth, random testing for steroids and other drugs, extending the amateur draft world wide, and management's attempt to change salary arbitration rules and eligibility.

On Monday, the union's executive board met in a Chicago suburb. While the board did not set a strike date then, it asked players on individual teams to give it authority to set one.

If there is no progress in negotiations, the executive board could, if the players give them the authority, call for baseball's ninth work stoppage. The players would likely set a walkout date for August or September.

Players and owners also await the upcoming ruling from arbitrator Shyam Das, who heard the grievance filed by the union, which claims management's attempt to fold the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos violated the previous labor contract, which expired Nov. 7.

Das has told the sides he will attempt to have a decision by Monday. Contraction was put off by Selig until after the 2002 season following a string of legal losses by baseball in the Minnesota courts, which ruled the Twins had to honor their 2002 lease in the Metrodome.

Information from the Associated Press and news services is included in this report.

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