MLB Seeks Testimony From Alex Rodriguez’s Publicist
Major League Baseball’s commissioner sued to compel the head of the public-relations firm Sitrick & Co. to comply with a subpoena issued by a panel arbitrating a dispute with New York Yankees third-baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Commissioner Bud Selig filed a petition in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan asking a judge to order Michael S. Sitrick to comply with the September subpoena seeking his appearance at arbitration proceedings between Rodriguez and Major League Baseball.
The Miami New Times reported in January that Rodriguez’s name was on a list of clients of Coral Gables, Florida-based anti-aging clinic Biogenesis of America, citing documents provided by Porter Fischer, a former employee of the clinic who said Bosch owed him money.
Rodriguez hired Sitrick & Co. to provide public-relations services. The firm issued a statement the same day the Miami New Times article was published saying Rodriguez hadn’t been treated or advised by the clinic’s founder, Anthony Bosch, according to the petition filed yesterday.
Yahoo! Sports published a story the following month identifying players, including Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who allegedly received performance-enhancing substances from Bosch. That story included excerpts of Bosch’s handwritten records.
Selig’s office said in the petition yesterday that the excerpts were provided to Sitrick by Rodriguez or people acting on his behalf and passed along to Yahoo by the firm.
MLB and the baseball players association agreed that Rodriguez would provide any documents and information about any efforts by the player or others acting on his behalf to obtain records maintained by Bosch, according to the petition.
The players union also agreed that if it couldn’t produce the documents, it would certify that Sitrick didn’t have and never had them, according to the petition.
Sitrick’s counsel in September objected to the subpoena, which seeks his testimony at the arbitration and a limited number of documents, and said Sitrick wouldn’t appear or produce the documents, according to the petition.
“To date, MLB has received neither responsive documents from Sitrick & Company, nor an affidavit from Mr. Sitrick certifying that neither he nor the company has or ever had the documents in question,” according to the petition. “The testimony of Mr. Sitrick is necessary to establish whether Rodriguez or his representatives have or had documents relevant to MLB’s allegations in the arbitration in their possession and when these documents were obtained.”
“It is our intention to work it out,” Michael Sitrick’s attorney, J. Michael Hennigan of McKool Smith Hennigan, said in a phone interview. “Mr. Sitrick wants to cooperate to the extent that he can.”
Rodriguez sued MLB and Selig this month, accusing them of trying to destroy his reputation and career with a 211-game suspension. A three-time American League Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez is fifth on MLB’s career home-run list with 654, six behind Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays.
Rodriguez was allowed to play pending an appeal of the suspension. He has acknowledged taking performance-enhancing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001 to 2003, and denied any use after that.
Rodriguez, who is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, has finished the sixth season of a 10-year, $275 million contract, the largest in baseball. He was activated from the disabled list the day the suspension was announced in August and hit .244 with seven home runs in 44 games this season.
The case is the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball v. Sitrick, 653774/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).
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