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Chisox back off pro-testing ploy

Sixteen White Sox players were ready to refuse a drug test Tuesday in hopes of making steroid testing mandatory.

The players decided to take the test after consulting with Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official.

"There were some ideas floating around that got shelved quickly. It wouldn't be fair to the union," Kelly Wunsch, Chicago's player representative, said.

Players who refuse a test automatically are counted as having tested positive for steroids. By refusing to take the test, the White Sox apparently were trying to force more extensive testing.

"I think some of them were saying that they would like an equal playing field," said Wunsch, who refused to name the players.

Contraction list included Rays

NEW YORK _ The Devil Rays and eventual world champion Angels were among baseball's contraction targets two years ago, the Associated Press and New York Times reported.

Tampa Bay, Arizona, Florida, Kansas City, Minnesota, Montreal, Oakland and San Diego were initially examined, according to a Dec. 11, 2000, memorandum by baseball lawyers Tom Ostertag and Ed Whang. In addition, an undated list of "Contraction Issues" prepared by the commissioner's office added Anaheim, stating "Angels want to "sell;' Athletics want to move." One option was to buy out the Angels and replace or merge them with the Athletics, the document said.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said the Angels were put on the list early and never were seriously a target.

The document said that eliminating the Devil Rays was complicated by a dispute between managing general partner Vince Naimoli and other partners, "lender issues, including bankruptcy and liability to lenders" and "ticket holder or similar class action," the New York Times reported. Naimoli and the team have denied any serious ownership dispute or financial woes.

ORIOLES-ROCKIES TRADE: Baltimore sent outfielder-first baseman Chris Richard and cash to Colorado for power-hitting outfield prospect Jack Cust.

WIDOW TO GET PAYMENT: Kiley Bechler, the widow of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler, will be paid $450,000 in life insurance, major league baseball's pension committee decided.

INDIANS: Right-handed reliever Mark Wohlers was scheduled for exploratory elbow surgery and likely will miss the start of the season.

REDS: Right-hander Jose Rijo was scheduled for surgery to remove bone spurs and is expected to be out for four weeks.