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La Russa claims union is pressuring Pujols

JUPITER — Cardinals manager Tony La Russa says first baseman Albert Pujols and his representatives are being pressured by the players' union during contract negotiations.

Pujols is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series and has set a deadline for noon today to reach agreement on a new deal.

Pujols has vowed to cut off negotiations once he arrives at spring training, perhaps today. La Russa said Tuesday he thinks the three-time NL MVP is being pushed to set a new standard with his contract, and he said that's unfair to the player.

Alex Rodriguez's $275 million, 10-year deal with the Yankees is baseball's current high.

"I know what he's going through with the union and to some extent his representatives because his representatives are getting beat up by the union," La Russa said. "Set the bar, set the bar. You've got to deal with it. It's not the way it should be."

Pujols, 31, has played all 10 seasons with the Cardinals and has repeatedly said he would like to stay with the franchise.

"We've had no discussions about numbers with Albert or with (agent) Danny Lozano or with any of his representatives," union head Michael Weiner said. "Albert is a very experienced, sophisticated, intelligent player. He's got good, experienced representation."

MARLINS PARK: The first seat was installed at the Marlins' new ballpark in downtown Miami, set to open next season. The team celebrated another milestone in the construction of its $535 million home when owner Jeffrey Loria helped put together the first chairback to be completed in the stadium.

GRIFFEY HIRED: Ken Griffey is returning to the Mariners as a special consultant less than a year after abruptly retiring from baseball, the team said. Griffey's role is still being defined.

AWARD: Sean Forman, founder of baseball-reference.com, and former Sporting News owner J.G. Taylor Spink and editor Clifford Kachline are among this year's recipients of the Society for American Baseball Research's Henry Chadwick Award. Authors Charles Alexander and John B. Holway also will be honored with the award given to historians, statisticians and archivists.

BONDS SAGA: A federal judge in the perjury case against Barry Bonds will allow an audio recording in which, prosecutors say, the baseball star's personal trainer discussed his steroids use. The trainer, Greg Anderson, is refusing to testify against Bonds, who is now facing five charges rather than the 11 that were filed in September 2007 over grand jury testimony from December 2003.

CUBS ADD RELIEVER: Chicago acquired right-hander Robert Coello, 26, from the Red Sox for minor-league second baseman Tony Thomas.

BRAVES: Third baseman Chipper Jones, 38, took grounders and got in some swings on the first day of spring training, a significant step in his recovery from major knee surgery.

D'BACKS: Second baseman Kelly Johnson, 28, agreed to a $5.85 million, one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

PADRES: Closer Heath Bell, 33, is sidelined with a strained left calf and won't participate in workouts until at least the weekend.

La Russa claims union is pressuring Pujols 02/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 9:37pm]
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