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“The agreement to begin testing puts baseball ahead of other American professional sports leagues and is a credit to their leadership,” Rep. Henry Waxman said. “It will be important that the testing be extended to the regular season to avoid creating a loophole in the new policy.”

The sides will explore in-season testing, but the union wants to make sure it’s done in a way that doesn’t interfere with players’ health and safety. In addition, the number of offseason urine tests will increase gradually from 125 currently to 250 before the 2015 season.

As for the playoffs, there will be an additional two teams that will give baseball 10 of 30 clubs in the postseason. In the NFL, 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs. In the NBA and NHL, 16 of 30 advance.

The wild-card teams in each league _ the non-first place teams with the best records _ will meet in a one-game playoff, with the winners advancing to the division series. Manfred said a decision on whether the expanded playoffs would start next year likely will be made by the January owners’ meeting.

“I think having a second wild-card team is great for the game,” said NL MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. “I think it adds intrigue, it adds excitement. If you look at what the wild card, the first wild card, has done for baseball over the last few years, it’s made games late in the season relevant for everybody.”

This agreement also calls for the Houston Astros to switch from the NL Central to the AL West in 2013, leaving each league with three five-team divisions and a new schedule format that’s still being determined. It’s baseball’s first realignment since the Brewers went to the NL after the 1997 season.


AP National Writer Eddie Pells, AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg and Associated Press writer Frederic J. Frommer contributed to this report.