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TALKS ON HOLD UNTIL WEDNESDAY

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With the union's strike deadline just a week away, baseball players and owners said Friday they wouldn't re-start formal talks about management's demand for a salary cap until next Wednesday.

The decision will leave the sides just two days to avert what would become the sport's eighth work stoppage in 22 seasons. Eugene Orza, the union's associate general counsel, said he saw no sign that owners were prepared to drop their insistence on a salary cap."I think they want to pressure to the players into accepting one and they're prepared for a long strike," he said Friday. "When I say `they' I mean a substantial number of owners."

The sides met informally Friday, with the union presenting its ideas on how clubs can share more revenue among themselves without a salary cap.

"Just some thoughts on the alternative ways clubs may alleviate the burdens of the small-market clubs," Orza said. "I wouldn't say that progress has been made, but at least they are still talking. They are moving, if laterally."

Negotiators agreed to have a formal bargaining session Monday, but it will be devoted to non-economic issues.

"Assuming there is ultimately an agreement on the economics, let's try to get everything else out of the way," management negotiator Richard Ravitch said Friday.

Committees involving both sides are to meet Tuesday, and formal talks on a salary cap will re-start the next day - two days before the union's Aug. 12 deadline for a walkout.

Ravitch hopes the union will reconsider its opposition to a salary cap and bargain over the dollar amount of a collective bargaining agreement. The union, insisting on free-market economics, says it won't consider that system.

Orza said he can't imagine why owners think players ever would agree to a salary cap.

"They may have busting the union and getting rid of all the players in mind," he suggested as management's possible thinking. "If that's what they want, that's a strategy they can employ."