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Talks go backward; players "outraged'

Baseball reached the brink of all-out war and the spring-training lockout hit a week Wednesday when management's new proposal "provoked outrage" from players. "Today wasn't a good day at the ranch," owners negotiator Chuck O'Connor said after a 1{-hour meeting that everyone admitted was a step back.

The two sides may not even meet today, the union's deadline for a 10-day recess. Earlier this week, when slight progress was made, some speculated a settlement would be reached by Friday _ in time for the exhibition season to start as scheduled on March 1.

"I don't know where we go from here," union chief Donald Fehr said.

"We seemed to be moving forward. All of a sudden, we go backward," said Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser, who attended the meeting.

While the sides moved farther apart, Opening Day keeps getting closer _ five weeks from Monday.

"I suppose (this) puts it at more risk," O'Connor said.

Owners had promised a different approach to solving the key issue of salary arbitration. But the latest offer, formulated with new input from management hard-liners and commissioner Fay Vincent, got nowhere.

The owners' proposal would:

Not allow arbitration players to compare their salaries to free-agent contracts or most multi-year contracts.

Force arbitration players to compare themselves only to those at the same position and with the same number of service years.

"My first thought was if someone wants to make our decision process easier that's a way to do it," Fehr said. The main proposals, he said, "provoke outrage."

Players want arbitration eligibility rolled back to two years, rather than the current three. That was thought to be the main sticking point, but that didn't come up.

"We made a concentrated effort to try to deal with the real problems the union expressed," O'Connor said.

"The reaction of the union was decidedly negative and now we move on," he said. "We are ready to resume the bargaining process, but it may well be we have reached a point where some time is needed."

The owners' six-man Player Relations Committee is scheduled to meet in New York today. O'Connor said a negotiating session may be set later in the day.

Fehr, his voice hoarse with bronchitis, plans to begin briefing players around the country on Friday. He said his first meeting likely would be somewhere on the East Coast.

"We put a proposal out there that deserved a principled response, not just an emotional "No, I don't want any part of it,' " O'Connor said. "I'm not going to go on an emotional binge and say this is the end of the baseball world as we know."

Report: IRS data show Rose underpaid taxes

CINCINNATI _ The Internal Revenue Service has documented that Pete Rose underpaid his taxes by more than $100,000 between 1985 and 1987, according to a report Wednesday in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

The newspaper, quoting unidentified sources, said sworn statements from witnesses interviewed by the IRS state the former Cincinnati Reds manager took cash earned at baseball card shows and stuffed it in suitcases and sacks.

"At this time, the grand jury has not seen fit to take action on any allegations," Rose spokeswoman Barbara Pinzka said Wednesday. "Pete Rose and his advisers have cooperated fully with the grand jury investigation into Pete's tax payments and will continue to do so."

She said she did not know how much money was involved.

"Just because he had income from those shows doesn't mean it was unreported income," Pinzka said. "Pete was aware of income from card shows and memorabilia shows. I really can't get into what he did or did not report on his tax."

Rose was in Plant City and could not be reached for comment.

A Cincinnati grand jury last year began investigating Rose's taxes, specifically if he under-reported income from appearances at memorabilia shows and race track winnings.

Grand jury investigations are supposed to be confidential but sources confirmed the inquiry last year to The Associated Press and several other news organizations.

Around the league

Mets: David Cone tripled his salary to $1.3-million on Wednesday when arbitrator Raymond Goetz picked his figure rather than the New York Mets' offer of $815,000. Cone's salary is a 291 percent increase from the $332,500 he made last season, when he was 14-8 with a 3.52 earned-run average.

The Mets also lost their arbitration case against Jeff Musselman on Wednesday when arbitrator Thomas Roberts awarded him $315,000 instead of the team's offer of $220,000.

Angels: Relief pitcher Greg Minton, who opted for free-agency after California declined to arbitrate with him last month, signed a one-year contract worth $850,000.

Mariners: Seattle has selected a moose as the team's first-ever mascot, narrowly edging a sea monster.