Yankees’ Rodriguez Begins Second Rehab Stint as Suspension Looms

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez begins his second minor-league injury rehabilitation assignment tonight while facing a drug suspension as he tries to return to the major leagues.

Rodriguez, 38, who is fifth on the Major League Baseball career list with 647 home runs, is being investigated by baseball for his ties to the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America LLC clinic in Coral Gables, Florida.

Rodriguez played in a simulated game yesterday at the Yankees’ spring training base in Tampa, and the team said in an e-mailed news release that Rodriguez would play rehab games tonight and tomorrow with the Trenton Thunder.

The three-time American League Most Valuable Player hasn’t played for the Yankees this season while recovering from January hip surgery. An earlier rehab assignment was cut short when he experienced tightness in his thigh.

Rodriguez stopped his car to speak with a group of writers as he left the Yankees’ complex yesterday, then drove away without commenting when he was surrounded by camera crews.

The Associated Press reported last night that pressure is building to impose penalties in the Biogenesis case by Aug. 5 so players can return for the postseason.

MLB officials plan to issue two announcements no later than Aug. 5 -- one listing players who have accepted suspensions and the other naming those who have been banned and could still challenge that discipline before an arbitrator, AP said, quoting an unidentified person familiar with the process.

Rodriguez is one of 14 players expected to be suspended for their ties to Biogenesis, AP said. While Rodriguez faces a longer ban, most of the players could get 50-game suspensions as first-time offenders under baseball’s drug rules -- and teams would have about 50 games left in the regular season starting next week.

Ryan Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, was suspended without pay on July 22 for the final 65 games of the season for unspecified drug violations. The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder has acknowledged ties to Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch.

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