Alex Rodriguez still plans to appeal, but last-minute deal with MLB possible
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Alex Rodriguez is ready to fight for his career if Major League Baseball imposes a lifetime ban or lengthy suspension in the Biogenesis probe, a source close to the Yankees third baseman said Wednesday.
The source said last night that neither Rodriguez nor his legal team had been informed of any disciplinary action amid multiple reports that commissioner Bud Selig was preparing to impose a lifetime ban by Friday unless a last-minute settlement is reached.
According to the source, Rodriguez has not deviated from the position taken by his lawyer, David Cornwell, who earlier this week said in a radio interview that an appeal would follow any action levied by MLB, which has linked Rodriguez and other players to allegedly receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis, a now-shuttered anti-aging clinic in Miami.
Barring a last-minute deal with MLB, Rodriguez is expected to let baseball arbitrator Fredric Horowitz decide his fate.
"He's prepared to roll the dice," the source said. "That begs the question, 'Are you rolling the dice because you are innocent or because you are stupid?' I can't imagine he's rolling the dice because he's stupid."
MLB officials met with the Major League Baseball Players Association Tuesday and informed them of their intent to discipline an unknown number of players. A source said several of those cited by MLB are expected to agree to disciplinary action without going through the appeal process. The suspensions are all expected to be announced together.
"Things were laid out, punishments were threatened," the source said. "Ultimately, what will be announced and meted out has been negotiated to the best of the bargaining parties' ability."
In banning Rodriguez for life, Selig would be invoking Article XII (B) of the collective bargaining agreement, which states: "Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is 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."
In this case, Rodriguez would be sidelined during the grievance process.
Despite published reports claiming MLB has significant evidence against Rodriguez, Cornwell said that there have been no discussions of a deal.
"Where is the voluminous evidence?" the source close to Rodriguez said. "No one has seen it. Others are getting 50-game suspensions and they want to give Alex life?"
Rodriguez hasn't played this season after hip surgery in January.
"He didn't have to go through any of this, this year," the source said. "He could have walked away in April and gotten paid. He had a very bad hip injury. If he wanted to play it out it wouldn't have been a charade . . . Why go through all this? Because he wants to play. He's got something to prove. If he's not guilty and he walks away with $100 million [by claiming disability] everyone thinks he's guilty. He's not going to be happy. Nobody would."
The suspension could come just as Rodriguez is ready to rejoin the Yankees. He has no other baseball plans if forced to sit out.
"What, he's going to go play in Japan?" the source said. "He doesn't want to do that. That's circus stuff."
Rodriguez is ready to face whatever lies ahead, the source said.
"He's been through a lot over the last 15 years, a lot of it through some fault of his own, that he would admit," the source said. "A lot of it not through fault of his own. He's got a lot of good in him that people don't know about.
"I don't think Alex Rodriguez is riding off into the sunset. Obviously, everybody knew something was coming. The game plan for him has always been the same."
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said during a conference call after the trade deadline passed Wednesday that the plan is for Rodriguez to play in a simulated game in Tampa Thursday. Cashman wouldn't say where Rodriguez would be Friday but said the team is hopeful of having him back soon.
"We have a plan in place with Alex that's been agreed to, so we have a schedule," said Cashman, who declined to discuss the Biogenesis probe and directed all questions to MLB. "We're also going to be checking the weather and all that stuff, too. But I'm not going to say where it is at this stage yet. I'll just take it one day at a time."
Rodriguez spent nearly four hours at the Yankees' minor-league facility in Tampa Wednesday, the fourth day of a five-day rehab assignment for a grade 1 quadriceps strain. Rodriguez took batting practice, fielded grounders and ran the bases, though not at full speed. He exited the facility without comment.
With David Lennon
in New York and
Bryan Burns in Tampa