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Selig favors extending ban for drug violators

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig supports revised congressional legislation that would suspend players for a half-season following a first failed steroids test.

Selig said negotiators for owners and players have made progress in talks but still haven't reached an agreement on a new drug deal. The length of the initial penalty appears to be the biggest obstacle.

"While it's preferable for us to solve our problems, if this goes ahead, then I said I'd support it, and I will," he said Wednesday during a news conference after his annual address to major league general managers.

Selig also maintained his opposition to using instant replay to review umpires' calls, even while acknowledging that during the postseason there were "some incidents that certainly need to be looked at."

"If you get into instant replay, you're going to have games that just go on endlessly. And that isn't in anybody's best interest," he said. "And where do you stop and where do you start it?"

Much of his news conference was devoted to steroids. Sen. Jim Bunning, a former pitcher who is in the Hall of Fame, introduced legislation along with Sen. John McCain that calls for a half-year suspension for an initial positive, a one-year ban for a second failed test and a lifetime ban for a third. The bill, which would apply to Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and baseball's minor leagues, urges leagues to wipe out records achieved with the help of performance-enhancing drugs.

Selig said he was willing to examine that after a new drug agreement is in place but also said there was little likelihood records would be erased. "There's been a lot of innuendo, there's been a lot of finger-pointing, there's been a lot of accusation, but with no empirical data to support it," he said.

FROM THE COMMISSIONER: On other topics, Selig said:

There will not be a vote on the sale of the Washington Nationals at next week's owners' meetings in Milwaukee.

The New York Yankees would not balk at providing players for next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic. "I think as far as I am concerned that we have all 30 clubs."

He is not worried about turnover in the Dodgers' organization under Frank and Jamie McCourt. "Everybody wants to do the best for their franchise. I know the McCourts do, too. I'm sure that they'll get the train on the track. I don't have any great concerns today."

SOX GM SEARCH: Washington general manager Jim Bowden spent 1 1/2 hours interviewing with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino on Wednesday in a bid to replace departed Boston GM Theo Epstein. "I thought it went very well," Bowden said. "Obviously, both are highly intelligent people. They were very well prepared and asked good questions."

Last month, Bowden agreed to a six-month contract extension through April with the Nationals, who are owned by the other 29 clubs and are up for sale. Bowden was born in Boston and said "it's always been a dream job" to join the Red Sox.

ALSO: The St. Louis Cardinals declined a $15 million option on outfielder Larry Walker, who announced his retirement after the season but still will get a $1 million buyout . . . Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli is expected to sign a long-term contract today that could be worth $33 million over six years.