Donald Fehr’s quarter century in charge of the major league baseball players’ association was marked by a strike that canceled the World Series, record salaries and eventually 14 years of labor peace.
And to his detractors, it was marred by a go-slow approach to steroids.
Fehr, who turns 61 next month, said Monday he will leave the powerful union no later than the end of March. Fehr recommended that he be succeeded by union general counsel Michael Weiner, the No. 3 official and his longtime heir apparent. The move is subject to approval by the union’s executive board and possible ratification by all players.
“I have no hesitancy in recommending to the players that he be given the opportunity to do this job,” Fehr said.
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The 47-year-old Weiner will lead negotiations for the next contract; the current labor agreement expires in December 2011.
Weiner and Steve Fehr, the union leader’s brother, were the primary day-to-day negotiators of labor contracts in 2002 and 2006, baseball’s first since 1970 that were achieved without a work stoppage.
“I think I have some sense of what I’m getting into,” Weiner said.
As part of the succession plan, Weiner met Monday in the union’s conference room with Fehr and the 92-year-old Marvin Miller, Fehr’s predecessor.
“I think that he’s a bright guy,” Miller said in a telephone interview. “He’s certainly not lacking in experience. He’s got the background for it.”
Players, concentrating on the economics, always backed Fehr.
“He’d talk like a lawyer, but in the same sense, he would also slow it down and explain it for us,” Colorado’s Todd Helton said.
Fehr headed negotiations for five labor contracts plus a divisive August 2002 drug agreement that was revised three times under congressional pressure. He decided he didn’t want to negotiate the next labor contract in two years and wanted to give Weiner lead time.
“After a while, it wears you down,” Fehr said. “I think it will be good for everybody.”
Weiner has been with the players’ association since September 1988 and has been its general counsel since February 2004. The No. 2 official is Gene Orza, the chief operating officer.
Orza praised Weiner for “enormous intelligence and incredible energy.”
Mets put Beltran on disabled list
Carlos Beltran was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday, a huge blow to a struggling New York Mets team already trying to work around key injuries.
The All-Star center fielder has an aching bone bruise on his right knee, the same injury that sidelined him for a couple of games in late May. An MRI exam Monday showed the bruise has gotten worse — Beltran said the doctor told him it just about doubled in size from last month.
Beltran could be out longer than 15 days, too. Asked if the Mets might wait until after the All-Star break to activate him, general manager Omar Minaya said: “That’s something that we have to consider.”
The Mets already are missing star shortstop Jose Reyes (hamstring, calf) and slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado (hip surgery). Neither is expected back soon.
“It’s difficult because of the situation where we are. I think right now basically David Wright is the only guy that is out there playing every day,” Beltran said. “But at the same time I’m happy that I know what I have and I know that I don’t have to go through surgery. I know that with rest I’ll be back.”
Yankees file protest
The New York Yankees filed an official protest with the commissioner’s office after a disputed loss to the Florida Marlins. New York manager Joe Girardi protested Sunday’s 6-5 defeat at Florida because of a Marlins substitution mix-up in the eighth inning.
Albert Pujols edged past Chase Utley for the race to be the National League’s top All-Star vote-getter. … Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez has had surgery to remove four bone chips in his right elbow and is expected to miss four to five weeks. … The Detroit Tigers will call up right-hander Freddy Dolsi from Triple-A Toledo today. … Indians infielder Asdrubal Cabrera will begin a 20-day rehabilitation assignment today after being sidelined nearly three weeks with a sprained shoulder. … The Minnesota Twins will call up right-hander Bobby Keppel from Triple-A Rochester today. … Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura could be back a lot sooner than expected after undergoing surgery for a knee injury that was not as severe as the Rays initially suspected. The second baseman only had a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and had an arthroscopic procedure performed Monday instead of reconstructive surgery that would have sidelined him the rest of the season. Instead, Iwamura could return in six to eight weeks.