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Saturday, February 26, 2011
Union confident Mets will pay players

By Wallace Matthews
ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- The executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association said he has "every confidence" that the New York Mets will meet all their financial obligations to their players in light of published reports that the team needed a $25 million loan from the league to deal with cash shortfalls caused by ownership's involvement with convicted swindler Bernard Madoff.

"I rely upon both the assurances we received from the commissioner's office as well as the documents that we are entitled to under the basic agreement," Michael Weiner said after briefing players in the New York Yankees clubhouse on the upcoming negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.

"What I said when I was in St. Lucie [to visit the Mets] was that I have every confidence that all the obligations to players under the basic agreement in their contracts will be met, and I still have every confidence that that's going to be the case."

Weiner said he was not surprised by news that, in spite of the denials by Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and team president Saul Katz that the Madoff affair had any adverse affect on the team's finances, they needed the intervention of commissioner Bud Selig in November to maintain operations.

"We were aware that -- and this shouldn't be a shock to anybody -- that the commissioner's office would be in discussions with the Mets about this issue," Weiner said. "Under certain provisions of our collective bargaining agreement we are entitled to really all the financial information that's out there. So eventually all these things are disclosed to us in a normal course."

The Mets acknowledged Friday that they received a loan from Major League Baseball in November to cover operating expenses. The New York Daily News and New York Times said the amount of the loan was $25 million.

Weiner also said he was "optimistic" that baseball would not suffer a work stoppage when its CBA expires in December.

"The lines of communication are open," he said. "There seems to be a real recognition by management in baseball that the union is here to stay and that the players have an important role to play. And that all is reason to be optimistic. But I've seen things take twists and turns. We don't take anything for granted."

Wallace Matthews covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com.