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MLB notebook: Drug penalties could stiffen

| Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, 7:54 p.m.

Baseball union head Michael Weiner said Monday there have been talks about increasing the penalties for violating baseball's drug testing program.

“There are certainly some players who have expressed that,” Weiner said. “We've had discussions with the commissioner's office. If it turns out that we have a different penalty structure because that's what players are interested in, that's what the owners are interested in, it will be for 2014.”

Weiner spoke to the media after he met with the Toronto Blue Jays as part of his annual tour of spring training camps.

“On one hand, we do have the toughest penalties of any team sport,” Weiner said. “Fifty games is more than you'd see for the first time in football and hockey and basketball.

“More and more players are vocal about the desire to have a clean game. More and more players are vocal about being willing to accept sacrifices in terms of testing in order to make sure we have a clean game.''

Changes to the drug program must be approved by both Major League Baseball and the players' union.

“One of the strengths of our Joint Drug Testing Program is that the bargaining parties have an ongoing dialogue about the program and potential changes that can make it even more effective,” Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for economics and league affairs, said in a statement. “We look forward to discussions with the MLBPA about changes that may be needed to respond to recent developments.”

Rivera ‘good' after session

Another batting practice session, and it was all “good” once again for Mariano Rivera.

The closer, who spoke enthusiastically about his first live BP session Friday, threw a 32-pitch one Monday.

“I felt real good,” Rivera said. “Location was good. Everything was good. Both (sessions) were good. Can't complain. I did what I wanted to do and the results were good.”

Rivera still is wearing a light brace on his right knee, something he will do into the foreseeable future. But the 43-year-old closer said his surgically repaired knee isn't bothering him in the least. In fact, he hasn't thought about it at all this spring.

Willis' comeback hits snag

The Cubs' Dontrelle Willis left because of a shoulder injury Monday just seven pitches into his latest comeback try.

The 2003 NL Rookie of the Year signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in January. He walked Nick Evans on six pitches to open the eighth inning and then threw one pitch to the next batter before trainers went out to the mound.

Umpire lineup reshuffled

Major League Baseball reshuffled its umpire roster for this season after the retirements of crew chiefs Ed Rapuano, Tim Tschida and Derryl Cousins.

Jim Joyce, Ted Barrett and Fieldin Culbreth have been promoted to crew chiefs. MLB also hired Vic Carapazza, Manny Gonzalez and Alan Porter as full-time staff members after they split time between the majors and minors in recent years.

Dickey makes Jays debut

NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey gave up two runs and four hits in his Toronto spring training debut, but he was outpitched by fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright for two innings in the Red Sox split squad's 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

Wright, a minor leaguer, gave up two hits and struck out three over two scoreless innings.

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