- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 12, 2008

Major League Baseball and its players agreed yesterday to toughen drug rules in the sport while at the same time absolving all players named in the Mitchell Report — including Washington Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca — from punishment.

As part of the agreement between owners and players, more drug tests will be administered during and the season and the offseason and now will be given to top amateur prospects as well as current major leaguers. The sides also agreed to keep the names of players involved in future probes private until any discipline is handed down.

“It is time for the game to move forward,” commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “There is little to be gained at this point in debating dated misconduct and enduring numerous disciplinary proceedings.”

Few players were mentioned as prominently in the Mitchell Report as Lo Duca, who was said to have purchased at least six kits of human growth hormone from former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski.

Lo Duca, who apologized this spring for “mistakes” he made in the past without offering specifics, declined to comment to reporters who approached him prior to last night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Teammate Ray King, a member of the players’ union executive council, applauded both owners and players for reaching this agreement.

“I’m all for it,” King said. “I commend both sides. We spent a lot of man hours this winter, a lot of phone calls, a lot of conference calls, trying to get it to where people outside of these locker rooms can agree with it.”

No. 42 for everyone

In commemoration of Jackie Robinson Day, all uniformed members of the Nationals will wear Robinson’s No. 42 for Tuesday’s game against the Mets in New York.

MLB retired the number throughout the sport 11 years ago but last April 15 allowed players to wear No. 42 for one day only in tribute to the man who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

First baseman Dmitri Young was the lone Nationals player to wear the jersey last season, but team officials decided to have everyone participate this year.

“It’s an honor to do that,” manager Manny Acta said. “It’s a number that is already special in baseball. And what Jackie has done for all of us is obviously one of the biggest things done in this living world.”

King was glad to hear that he and all of his teammates would be honoring Robinson together.

“It’s called being unified,” the left-hander said. “I think on that date, every team, every player, every manager, every batboy who puts on the uniform should wear No. 42.”

Extra bases

Chad Cordero threw a perfect inning of relief last night for Class A Potomac, striking out one batter. The injured closer, on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis, will be re-examined by the Nationals today and likely will be activated for tomorrow’s series finale….

Young, on the DL with a sprained lower back, received an epidural injection yesterday to help relieve pain. The club still has no timetable for Young’s return. …

Willie Harris started in left field last night, with Felipe Lopez back on the bench. Acta said he wanted to get Harris some more at-bats in an attempt to get him out of his season-opening, 1-for-13 slump.

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