IRVING, Texas, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Testimony continued Wednesday before an arbitrator in a grievance filed by the players' association regarding the potential contraction of two teams before the 2002 season.
Players claim the vote by owners in favor of contraction early last month violates the terms of their labor contract. The hearing was preceded by the annual players' meeting, held at the same hotel in Irving, Texas. Players were briefed on contraction during the 4 1/2 hour meeting.
"Obviously we are opposed to (contraction), but in the long run, everything is negotiable," said Rangers pitcher and AL player representative Rick Helling. "Everything can be bought and sold in the real world, and we're no different. We're going to do everything we can to bargain it where the effects of it are as positive as they can be for the players. If it's something that has to happen, we'll negotiate it the best we can. But if we can stop it, that's our first goal."
The hearing moves to New York Monday for four more days after Wednesday's testimony before arbitrator Shyam Das. The players are scheduled to continue their meetings Wednesday and Thursday.
Marlin sale said to be near
MIAMI, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- John Henry reportedly has been given permission to sell the Florida Marlins to Montreal Expos owner Jeffrey Loria.
Citing a Major League Baseball source, the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday that the deal could be finalized in the next few days. Three-quarters of baseball's owners would need to approve the sale.
Neither team would comment.
The Expos are expected to be either contracted or taken over by Major League Baseball, which would buy the team from Loria in case contraction is aborted, leaving him an opportunity to own the Marlins.
According to the Herald, Loria has spoken with MLB about bringing some of his best players from Montreal to Florida, namely outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and righthander Javier Vazquez. Other teams wanting to acquire the star players in a dispersal draft likely would fight such a move.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig already has said he wants to eliminate the Expos and Minnesota Twins before the start of next season. But the Players' Association has stated its opposition to such a move.
Torre reportedly gets new contract
NEW YORK, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees reportedly have given Manager Joe Torre a new three-year contract. According to the New York Times, the deal is worth just over $16 million, although a team spokesman denied it Wednesday morning.
The Yankees also never announced the re-signing of General Manager Brian Cashman, who inked a new deal some time after the end of the World Series.
Torre's contract expired on Oct. 31, four days before the Yankees suffered a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game Seven of the World Series.
Torre guided the Yankees to three straight World Series titles from 1998-2000 and four overall since replacing Buck Showalter in 1996.
Broncos lose draft pick
DENVER, Dec. 5 (UPI) --The National Football League has stripped the Denver Broncos of a third-round pick in the 2002 draft for violating guidelines under the NFL's deferred compensation fund, it was confirmed Wednesday.
The Broncos also were ordered to make payments totaling nearly $1 million for failing to submit money in a timely fashion between 1998 and 1999.
Under league rules, each team is required to place a portion of its deferred players' and coaches' salaries into a league reserve fund to ensure that teams do not go into long-term debt and that players who sign contracts that include deferred money are guaranteed it will be available in the future.
A third-round pick is a valuable one for the Broncos. That is where they selected quarterback Brian Griese in 1998. Denver has an extra fourth-round pick in April's draft.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also lost a third-round pick earlier this year for a similar violation.
SMU expected to name new coach
DALLAS,Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Southern Methodist, which has endured four straight losing seasons, was expected to name Phil Bennett the 15th football coach in school history Wednesday.
Bennett, 46, has spent the last three seasons as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for Kansas State. The Wildcats are ranked third in the nation in total defense after placing fourth in 2000.
Bennett is a native of Marshall, Texas, a defensive end at Texas A&M and was responsible for recruiting in the Dallas area and central and eastern regions of Texas for Kansas State.
LaSalle tabs Stalcup
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- La Salle named Archie Stalcup football coach Wednesday, one week after Bill Manlove retired.
Stalcup, 59, has been a member of the coaching staff since 1997 when the football program returned following a 56-year hiatus.
Stalcup was defensive coordinator in 2000, when La Salle finished 16th in Division I-AA in pass defense and 18th in total defense. He was promoted to associate head coach before this season, and the Explorers finished 5-4.
Prior to coming to La Salle, Stalcup was the defensive coordinator at Rowan Univeristy, where his team was the 1993 Division III runner-up.
CART seeks new CEO
DETROIT, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- CART announced Wednesday it is looking for a new president and CEO to replace Joseph Heitzler who is stepping down.
The auto racing league did not give a timetable for its search and said Heitzler would continue to oversee its day-to-day operations until a successor is found. He will stay on as the board's chairman once a replacement takes over.
Since its inception in 1978, Championship Auto Racing Teams has struggled for stability, a situation exacerbated by the arrival of the Indy Racing League in 1996.
CART owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series.