Yanked: Suspensions for A-Rod, eight others to come by end of week

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STEVE NESIUS for New York Daily News

Alex Rodriguez bends over in exhaustion after working out at the Yankees spring training complex. By the end of this week he may want to run and hide as sources tell the Daily News that is when he and eight other Major Leaguers will be suspended for connections to Biogenesis.

Major League Baseball officials told union leaders during a meeting at the Players Association’s midtown Manhattan offices on Tuesday that they plan to suspend Alex Rodriguez and eight other players who allegedly obtained performance-enhancing drugs from a South Florida anti-aging clinic.

Most of the players will be suspended for 50 games, but some – including the Yankees’ embattled superstar — face stiffer penalties for lying to MLB investigators or interfering in baseball’s year-long Biogenesis investigation.

Not all of the players linked to Biogenesis in media reports face discipline, sources have told The News. Two former Yankees — Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera and Oakland A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon — will not be punished because they already have been suspended as a result of their links to Biogenesis and its owner, self-styled “biochemist” Anthony Bosch.

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Other players linked to Biogenesis may not be disciplined because MLB investigators could not dig up enough evidence to warrant penalties.

It remains unclear how many of the players will accept the suspensions and how many will fight MLB’s decision, although A-Rod’s attorney, David Cornwell, said this week that Rodriguez will appeal the looming ban.

Representatives for the players are expected to let MLB officials know if they will challenge the suspensions as early as Wednesday, a source said.

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The Daily News back page for July 31, 2013.

New York Daily News

The Daily News back page for July 31, 2013.

Other notable players linked to Biogenesis include Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta and San Diego Padres infielder Everth Cabrera.

In a three-team deal on Tuesday, the Tigers acquired Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias in a likely signal that Peralta will accept a suspension.

Tuesday’s sit-down represents one of the last steps before Rodriguez and other players linked to the now-defunct Coral Gables clinic will be formally disciplined in what will be the most aggressive and comprehensive anti-doping action in the history of the sport. MLB is expected to announce the suspensions by the end of the week.

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MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and other baseball executives huddled with Players Association officials and the players’ representatives to inform them about the pending suspensions, sources familiar with the meeting told the Daily News.

In the case of Rodriguez, sources say that MLB investigators have gathered overwhelming evidence that he used performance-enhancing drugs in 2010, 2011 and 2012. MLB officials are believed to have gathered hundreds of emails, text messages and phone records that prove the aging infielder continued to use banned drugs long after he acknowledged in 2009 that he used steroids from 2001 to 2003, his years with the Texas Rangers.

The investigation that will result in Rodriguez’s suspension began in August of 2012, when the Daily News reported that Cabrera and his associates attempted to avoid a 50-game ban for doping by claiming that a legal product had caused a positive drug test. MLB investigators quickly determined that Cabrera and his associates were bluffing, in part because a website for the product Cabrera claimed had caused his positive test had been created shortly before he met with baseball officials.

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Rodriguez takes ground balls on Tuesday, but it is likely all for naught.

STEVE NESIUS for New York Daily News

Rodriguez takes ground balls on Tuesday, but it is likely all for naught.

That investigation ultimately resulted in the suspension last week of former National League MVP Ryan Braun for the remainder of the season.

On Tuesday, Rodriguez had his longest workout at the Yankees’ Tampa complex since team physician Christopher Ahmad diagnosed him with a Grade 1 strain of his left quad on July 21. The aging infielder — Rodriguez turned 38 on Saturday — didn’t look like an athlete suffering from a quad injury; he showed far more mobility and energy during agility drills, wind sprints, batting practice and infield practice than he displayed during his minor league rehab assignment earlier this month.

Rodriguez, who has missed the entire 2013 season after having hip surgery in January, is scheduled to play in a simulated game on Thursday and could join the Yankees as early as Friday in San Diego. But at this point it seems unlikely that Rodriguez will ever step foot on a major league diamond again.

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Rodriguez faces a much stiffer punishment than other players linked to Biogenesis because MLB officials have gathered evidence that suggests he attempted to interfere with baseball’s investigation — by intimidating witnesses and purchasing documents — in addition to violating the sport’s drug policy.

If Rodriguez indicates that he will appeal his looming suspension to stay on the field and protect his contract, commissioner Bud Selig is prepared to invoke his rarely used right to suspend a player to preserve the integrity of the game – a power embodied in Article XI, Section A1b of the game’s collective bargaining agreement. Doing so would effectively bypass the joint drug agreement between MLB and the union. Such a suspension would be effective immediately.

While Rodriguez could theoretically appeal such a suspension within 30 days, Selig himself would be the one to review the appeal in a hearing and “render a written decision as soon as practicable” afterward. All told, that process could potentially keep Rodriguez off the field deep into September.

If the punishment Selig were to impose in such a scenario was excessive, Rodriguez could turn to another provision of the basic agreement that gives him the opportunity to ask arbitrator Frederic Horowitz to review it; Horowitz, however, does not have the right to stay A-Rod’s suspension. So invoking Article XI would effectively sideline A-Rod for much of the remaining season.

By using Article XI, Selig would risk a federal court case or a reopening of the collective bargaining agreement. If the Players’ Association decides to reopen the CBA to negotiation, the union would still find it difficult to defend Rodriguez because many of its players have abandoned support for the Yankees’ disgraced third baseman.

Another possibility is for Rodriguez to follow Braun’s lead and settle for a suspension that would take him off the field for the rest of this year and possibly the entire 2014 season as well. A-Rod would serve the ban without collecting pay, but would still have a chance to collect the remaining $ 60 million the Yankees would owe him from 2015 to 2017. But it is unclear if MLB officials would even agree to such a penalty.


Daily News – Sports

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