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BASEBALL DEAL DEADLINE STANDS, MAY BE FLEXIBLE

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The Friday deadline for a deal between baseball players and owners may be flexible if the talks show progress toward an agreement, acting commissioner Bud Selig said Sunday.

Selig, speaking from his home in Milwaukee, said the deadline stood as of now. But he said the final decision would depend on how negotiations proceed when they resume Monday in Washington."We'll see what kind of progress there is. That's something we'll have to use common sense on," said Selig, who spent Sunday at the Green Bay Packers' 21-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Owners voted last Thursday to give the ruling executive council, headed by Selig, the authority to declare an impasse and impose a salary cap if there isn't a deal by Thursday.

"That's a date the clubs agreed to," Selig said. "But let's see what happens. At this point, I don't want to speculate on that. This group has until Friday to make a deal."

Union head Donald Fehr and his staff traveled to Washington on Sunday. Lauren Rich and Michael Weiner, who have been heavily involved in economic analysis for the players, spent the day with Glassman-Oliver Economic Consultants Inc., a research firm.

Milwaukee catcher B.J. Surhoff, who also arrived in Washington on Sunday, said the players were optimistic. The union would challenge an imposed cap before the National Labor Relations Board, hoping the NLRB would ask a federal court for a preliminary injunction.

"The players will meet wherever we have to, whenever we have to, to do what we have to do. We're here to try to get a deal, not worry about some third party work this out for us."

Monday's talks were expected to be conducted at a low level. Boston Red Sox chief executive officer John Harrington, management's chief negotiator, isn't expected to arrive until Tuesday.