Labor contract ratified by owners

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Major League Baseball owners have ratified a five-year collective bargaining agreement, sealing 21 consecutive seasons of labor peace through 2016.

Owners voted unanimously to approve the deal during a telephone conference call Thursday.

The players’ association announced Dec. 1 that its executive board had ratified the agreement, which was signed Nov. 22.

The deal starts blood testing for human growth hormone and institutes restraints on signing bonuses for amateur draft picks and international players coming to the big leagues.

RED SOX: Boston wants Jason Varitek back.

It might not be as a player, though.

Two days after signing free agent Kelly Shoppach to back up Jarrod Saltalamacchia – giving the Red Sox a full complement of three catchers who are expected to be on the major league squad – general manager Ben Cherington said the team is still talking to the captain and longtime backstop about remaining with the ballclub “in some way.”

PHILLIES: Philadelphia signed lefty Dontrelle Willis to a one-year contract, worth $850,000.

The 30-year-old Willis was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year with Florida and finished second in Cy Young Award voting in 2005. He was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA for Cincinnati last year.

Willis is expected to pitch out of the bullpen.

TWINS: Outfielder Josh Willingham and Minnesota agreed to a $21 million, three-year contract.

The 32-year-old hit .246 with a career-high 29 homers and 98 RBI for Oakland last season.


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