Major League Baseball and the players' union hope to have a new domestic violence policy in place before next season, MLB executive vice president Joe Torre told a Senate committee hearing Tuesday.
Testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee, Torre said MLB has proposed a policy that would "make it easier for the commissioner to impose an appropriate level of discipline on players who commit acts of domestic violence or sexual assault and have that discipline be upheld in arbitration."
Torre told the committee that, under MLB's current rules, the commissioner potentially has the right to use his best-interest-of-baseball powers to discipline players for "just cause" in cases where a player has engaged in "conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball." However, Torre testified that MLB can't currently impose that discipline without proving to a neutral arbitrator that the player's actions constitute a violation, which he said "can be difficult in the absence of a conviction or plea or without cooperating witnesses or tangible evidence."
So MLB and the union are in negotiations on a new policy that would cover new disciplinary measures for players who commit acts of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Torre also told the committee that:
• MLB has hired San Francisco-based Futures Without Violence to "develop and implement training and education programs for all of our players."
• Since September, MLB has met with more than a dozen national and local organizations that focus on domestic violence and violence against women, and the league is in the process of selecting groups that will be part of a steering committee to develop educational and training material for teams and players.
• MLB will send Dr. Linda Chamberlain, who founded the Alaska Family Violence Prevention Project, to speak to team medical officials at the winter meetings.
• MLB is in the process of formulating educational programs for all 30 clubs to share with players and their spouses and families.
• MLB is "developing protocols that our clubs must follow in response to domestic violence or sexual assault incidents that will include appropriate measures to ensure the safety of affected individuals, providing confidential counseling and treatment for victims, and providing counseling and intervention for perpetrators."