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“I know we’re prepared to try to get it done. I’m confident that the ownership is prepared to try to get it done as well,” Weiner said. “You don’t know until you get to the table.”

Weiner does not expect the looming trials for home run king Barry Bonds (scheduled for March) and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens (scheduled for July) to cast a pall over the season.

“I don’t think anybody’s happy about the fact that Barry and Roger face these trials,” Weiner said. “Knowing both of those guys a long time, I’m not happy about that. I think the institution has gotten to the point where drug testing and the issues associated with it are going to be involved with the business of the game, but it’s not the dominant story that it has been or was several years ago.”

In Fort Myers, Justin Morneau said he’s feeling better in his recovery from a July 7 concussion. At first, he figured he’d be back by the All-Star game. Then it was September. Finally, when he wasn’t able to play in the postseason, the Minnesota Twins’ star first baseman finally started to come to grips with the fact that recovery from this injury was out of his control.

He still feels a few lingering symptoms. He will likely miss the first four or five exhibition games as he eases his way back into things and still hopes to be ready for opening day on April 1.

“Wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent yet, but I think it’s as close as I can get,” Morneau said. “It’s just trying to get over that final hump.”

In Mesa, Ariz., Cubs manager Mike Quade said Ryan Dempster will start Chicago’s opener against Pittsburgh on April 1.

Dempster was picked over right-hander Carlos Zambrano, who has started the last six openers for the Cubs. Zambrano will start the second game of the season, followed by Matt Garza in Game 3. The Cubs obtained Garza during the offseason from Tampa Bay.

“To be honest with you, I never really thought about it a whole lot until today,” said Dempster, who started Florida’s openers in 2001 and 2002. “It’s a humbling feeling to go out there. It could have been any one of the three guys everybody’s been talking about. Z’s started the last six years. So it feels weird to go out there and do that.”