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09/10/08 9:35 PM ET

Alvarez grievance hearings under way

Selig, Halem testify Wednesday in first step of lengthy process

HOUSTON -- The start of a grievance hearing between Major League Baseball and the Players Association came and went with little fanfare on Wednesday. The grievance was filed by the Players Association on Aug. 27 to contend that MLB extended the Aug. 15 deadline by which players selected in the June First-Year Player Draft had to sign.

Commissioner Bud Selig and Dan Halem, a labor lawyer for MLB, were the only people to testify before arbitrator Shyam Das on the first day of what looks to be a long, drawn-out hearing.

Selig finished his testimony, though Halem will continue in his when the hearing picks back up on Sept. 23, which was the earliest date that Das had available to return to the case. Das will be available to hear arguments on Sept. 24 as well, though beyond that, the hearing will be postponed until October.

The Union has an extensive witness list still to work through, including players and other management officials. After that, MLB can then call its additional witnesses.

As a result, this entire process -- which will include all the testimony, a time for both sides to file written briefs and a period for Das to write his binding decision -- is not likely to be wrapped up anytime soon.

"My hope that this hearing might end in two days is not looking very good," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said.

No one from the Pirates organization attended Wednesday's hearing in New York City, though both general manager Neal Huntington and Coonelly are expected to testify before Das eventually.

Again, Das' ruling in this grievance case will determine the next step for the Pirates and first-round pick Pedro Alvarez. The former Vanderbilt third baseman and his agent, Scott Boras, vie that Alvarez agreed to a $6 million signing bonus with the Pirates after the established midnight deadline. Das' decision on whether or not MLB violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement by extending that deadline for select clubs will determine whether Alvarez is bound to that initial verbal agreement.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.