Rodriguez slammed his hand on a table in frustration and then stalked out of his hearing yesterday in New York, where the Yankees’ third baseman is seeking to overturn a 211-game ban, the longest drug suspension in MLB history.
Rodriguez, 38, later in the day went on a New York radio station to plead his case and state that he hasn’t used any performance-enhancing drugs since 2001-03. MLB has said Rodriguez used testosterone and human growth hormone for multiple years, and later tried to obstruct baseball’s investigation.
“The bottom line is I’ve worked for 20 years, I’ve dedicated more than half of my life to baseball, whether you like me or not, what’s wrong is wrong and the system is wrong,” Rodriguez said on WFAN radio in New York.
Rodriguez left yesterday’s hearing after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order Selig to testify, and the player said in a statement that the “absurdity and injustice just became too much.” Rodriguez sued MLB and Selig last month for attempting to destroy his reputation and career.
“Selig is not testifying,” Rodriguez’s lawyer, Jim McCarroll, said on WFAN. “Alex has been told by his union that if he testifies, there’s a meaningful likelihood that he gets hit with more discipline by his accusers because they don’t believe him. Would you testify?”
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said the league and players’ union have had a contractual grievance system to address disputes between the two parties for more than 40 years.
“This negotiated process has served players and clubs well,” Courtney said in an e-mail. “Despite Mr. Rodriguez being upset with one of the arbitration panel’s rulings today, Major League Baseball remains committed to this process and to a fair resolution of the pending dispute.”
The MLB Players Association said in a statement that every player has the right to directly confront his accuser in the arbitration process.
“We argued strenuously to the arbitrator in Alex’s case that the commissioner should be required to appear and testify,” the MLBPA said in a statement. “While we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator’s ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex’s suspension within the context of this hearing.”
Rodriguez said he’ll meet with his lawyers to figure out his next course of action, though he said he doesn’t plan to participate in the hearing unless Selig agrees to “face the music.”
“One hundred percent this is personal,” Rodriguez said. “This is about his legacy and about my legacy. He’s trying to destroy me and, by the way, he’s retiring in 2014. To put me on his big mantle on the way out, that’s a hell of a trophy.”
Rodriguez was allowed to play out the sixth year of his 10-year, $275 million contract, the largest in baseball, last season while appealing the suspension.
The three-time American League Most Valuable Player has acknowledged taking performance-enhancing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003. He’s denied any use after that and repeated that yesterday when asked about his links to Anthony Bosch, founder of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. MLB is investigating whether players were supplied with performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, and has obtained company records and gained Bosch’s cooperation.
“I did nothing,” Rodriguez said. “Take away what we talked about in the past. With the Bosch nonsense, nothing.”
Rodriguez said he didn’t hear one bit of “credible evidence” during 12 days of the hearing. While he doesn’t know what will happen next, Rodriguez said he hopes he’ll soon be able to focus on playing baseball again.
“I’m ready for opening day,” Rodriguez said on WFAN. “For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m going to have a full offseason to work hard and prepare. I feel that we’re going to come back and have a good year and I hope I’m right in the middle of this.”
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