Baseball commissioner Bud Selig wants the players named in the Mitchell report to bear some accountability for their involvement in performance-enhancing drugs -- and that is slowing progress in talks with the players' union on implementing Mitchell's recommendations, The New
York Times reported.
Selig, while willing to forgo suspensions for players named in the report, wants those players to be held responsible in some other way, the Times reported, citing two lawyers who had been briefed on the talks and spoke on condition of anonymity.
That accountability could include counseling or fines.
"He wants a small dose of action and that will satisfy him," one of the lawyers said, according to the Times.
Selig's office and the Major League Baseball Players Association are hoping to complete talks on adopting former Sen. George Mitchell's recommendations by Opening Day.
On Friday, 15-game suspensions for the Royals' Jose Guillen and the Orioles' Jay Gibbons were stayed, pending an agreement by the two sides.
"By extending Guillen and Gibbons, it is a sign that both sides are close and will give a little more breathing room," another lawyer familiar with the talks said, according to the Times. "Both sides would not have agreed to the extension if this thing was about to fall apart."
The suspensions would start April 9 if an agreement isn't reached and no other actions are taken.
Negotiators are reportedly close to an agreement that would call for more frequent drug testing and would strengthen the authority of the independent program administrator. If there is an agreement, the suspensions of Gibbons and Guillen would most likely be eliminated as part of an overall amnesty for players implicated in the Mitchell report.
When Mitchell issued the report late last year, he linked about 90 current and former players to performance-enhancing drugs and made a number of recommendations, largely dealing with baseball improving its drug-testing program. He also advised that baseball not discipline players named in the report, arguing that attempting to mete out punishment "will keep everyone mired in the past."
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in November that Guillen bought human growth hormone, two kinds of testosterone and steroids from 2002-05, allegations the Royals outfielder wouldn't address.
"All I know is I'm going to play Opening Day, and I'm going to try to do my best for those 10 days to help this team to win -- and hopefully for the rest of the season without taking a day off," Guillen said. "So that's what I'm hoping."
Gibbons admitted receiving an HGH shipment in January 2005. The Orioles outfielder apologized and didn't contest the penalty.
"I was fully prepared to serve my suspension," Gibbons said in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before the Orioles broke camp. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.