Alex Rodriguez's attorney: No plea deal discussed with MLB
The attorney for Alex Rodriguez said Monday that no deal has been discussed with Major League Baseball and that he's focused on preparing a successful appeal if Rodriguez is suspended in the Biogenesis probe.
"I don't expect to be standing anywhere other than in a conference room arguing on behalf of Alex and fighting for no discipline," Atlanta-based David Cornwell told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN New York Radio. "We believe that we have good, valid and strong defenses for Alex and we intend to present them when the time comes."
A potential suspension for Rodriguez reportedly could range from 100 games to a lifetime ban. Cornwell said he has not been approached by MLB officials to discuss a plea arrangement. "No, we're focused on an appeal," Cornwell said.
Another potential avenue of suspension facing Rodriguez, The Associated Press reported Monday night, could come if MLB attempts to discipline him under the collective-bargaining agreement by citing Article XII B of the Basic Agreement: "Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball, including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law."
If that clause is invoked, Rodriguez likely would begin serving his suspension before the appeal process was underway and therefore would not be permitted to play.
MLB is expected to soon announce suspensions related to its investigation of Biogenesis, which allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez and other players. The Brewers' Ryan Braun has been the only major-leaguer disciplined in the case, agreeing last week to a season-ending suspension of 65 games.
In February 2012, before Braun's involvement in Biogenesis, Cornwell successfully appealed the 50-game suspension the 2011 National League MVP received after testing positive for elevated testosterone levels.
"My understanding is the next step that is going to be taken is that the Players Association and baseball will meet to discuss the investigation and baseball's focus on particular players," Cornwell said of the Biogenesis case. "So we'll see how that process plays out, but at this point my understanding or my expectation is that we're going to be working through the process toward an appeal. My job is to represent Alex in connection with an appeal and that's what I'm going to focus on."
Cornwell indicated the appeal would include questioning the credibility of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch and Porter Fischer, who worked for Bosch and later was identified as the source who supplied the documents behind the Miami New Times' story linking players to the now-closed anti-aging clinic.
"Obviously, [MLB] may believe that he's credible," Cornwell said of Bosch. "I have my concerns. What's most important is whether arbitrator [Frederic] Horowitz will believe that he's credible or not."
Gary Smith, a spokesman for Fischer, said, "Cornwell can get in line with many others who want to attack Porter Fischer for exposing the truth and is left without support. He did it because it was the right thing to do. Bravery and credibility go hand in hand."
Even if any suspension is appealed, former arbitrator George Nicolau said entering the arbitration process does not preclude the parties from reaching a negotiated settlement at any point.
Rodriguez was diagnosed with a grade 1 quadriceps strain July 21 at the end of a 20-day minor-league rehab assignment. He resumed workouts in Tampa Monday and is expected to remain there at least through Thursday on a five-day rehab plan mutually agreed upon by him and the Yankees. He then could play in a simulated game or begin a rehab assignment.
Rodriguez was seen working out for nearly an hour. After batting-cage work that included hitting off a tee and taking underhanded pitches, he fielded about two dozen grounders, then ran the bases several times with rehabbing teammate Curtis Granderson. Rodriguez left at 11:55 a.m. without comment.
Rodriguez, if deemed healthy by the Yankees, could rejoin the team in August. If suspended under the joint drug agreement, he could play during the appeal.
Rodriguez also is likely to face disciplinary action from the Yankees for not following protocol after his decision to have New Jersey orthopedist Michael Gross review an MRI of his quad injury. A person familiar with the club's thinking on the matter refused to comment.
Cornwell would not discuss his impression of the Yankees' relationship with Rodriguez, saying, "The only thing that Alex is focused on right now is trying to get back to playing baseball."
With Joey Knight in Tampa