Alex Rodriguez has been tentatively put into the lineup for tonight’s game against the Chicago White Sox as the New York Yankees wait to see if he’s suspended by Major League Baseball, manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, heads a group of players investigated by MLB for connections to Biogenesis of America LLC, the now-closed Miami-area clinic accused of supplying performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB informed the Yankees that Rodriguez will be suspended today, probably through the 2014 season, and would be able to play while he appeals the discipline, the Associated Press reported last night, citing an unidentified person familiar with the deliberations. About 12 other players will also be suspended today, with most of those agreeing to accept 50-game suspensions without appealing, ESPN said.
“All of us are curious what’s going to happen and if Alex is going to be a player for us, and what’s going to happen with the other guys that are involved in this,” Girardi told reporters before the Yankees’ 6-3 loss yesterday in San Diego. “In my mind, I have him penciled in here.”
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney declined to comment about the Biogenesis case. Rodriguez’s lawyer, David Cornwell, didn’t immediately answer an e-mail sent out of normal business hours.
Rodriguez, who has an MLB-record 10-year, $275 million contract, flew to Chicago yesterday to join the Yankees after playing two rehabilitation games with the team’s Double-A minor-league affiliate in Trenton, New Jersey.
Rodriguez isn’t interested in a settlement with MLB and planned to challenge any suspension in arbitration, ESPN reported on Aug. 3, citing an unidentified person in Rodriguez’s camp. Rodriguez turned down MLB’s offer to drop a lifetime ban if he agreed to give an arbitrator the flexibility to impose more than a 50-game suspension, according to ESPN.
The league’s joint drug agreement says that a first-time violation for using performance-enhancing drugs results in a 50-game ban. Rodriguez has never failed a publically-announced drug test, though he previously acknowledged using banned drugs in 2001-03, while with the Texas Rangers.
If Rodriguez fights a suspension, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig could declare him ineligible to play during the appeals process to protect the best interests of the sport, ESPN said. Rodriguez, who stands to lose more than $34 million in salary if he’s suspended through next season, may then file a grievance if MLB refuses to let him play.
AP said yesterday that Rodriguez may not be suspended through 2014, when he’s due $25 million, if he gives up the right to file a grievance and go to arbitration.
Rodriguez, baseball’s active career home-run hitter with 647, hasn’t played in the majors this season while recovering from left hip surgery in January. Girardi said he exchanged text messages with Rodriguez following the games in Trenton and that Rodriguez is “anxious” to rejoin the Yankees.
The Yankees are scheduled to play the White Sox in the opener of a three-game series starting at 8:10 p.m. New York time.
“I don’t suspect it’ll be awkward,” Girardi said of having Rodriguez back with the team. “Most of the guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot. I’m sure there will be more media there, but that’s more for Alex to deal with than the rest of the guys.”
The longest major- league drug ban is 100 games, against pitcher Guillermo Mota for failing two doping tests.
National League MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, who was also connected to Biogenesis, last month accepted a suspension from MLB that keeps him out of the final 65 games of this season for unspecified drug violations.
Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz said he expects to hear from MLB today about a ban for his involvement with Biogenesis. The Rangers’ leading home-run hitter said yesterday he hasn’t decided whether he’ll appeal a 50-game suspension, which would keep him out for the rest of the regular season. Cruz would be eligible to return for the playoffs if the Rangers qualify for the postseason.
“It’s not just about myself, it’s also about the team,” Cruz, who will become a free agent after the season, told reporters. “I don’t know what will happen.”
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