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Alex Rodriguez caught in crosshair of rampant speculation about suspension

Alex Rodriguez watches from the dugout in the

Alex Rodriguez watches from the dugout in the sixth inning of ALCS Game 3 at Detroit's Comerica Park. (Oct. 16, 2012) Credit: AP

Alex Rodriguez's uncertain future has taken center stage as Major League Baseball's probe into a former anti-aging clinic enters its disciplinary phase.

The season-ending suspension of Ryan Braun on Monday for his involvement with Biogenesis has placed Rodriguez in the middle of a firestorm of speculation. A report yesterday said that MLB would look to hit Rodriguez with a lifetime ban, another said that Rodriguez would try to cut a deal, and another said Rodriguez would fight any suspension handed down.

Rodriguez has not sought to make a deal with MLB, Ron Berkowitz, publicist for the Yankees third baseman, said Tuesday.

"There is no plea arrangement underway with Major League Baseball," Berkowitz said.

There was no indication from MLB that it was discussing a plea with Rodriguez, though reports suggest either side could change its stance in this fluid process.

"The CBS Evening News" reported that an unnamed MLB executive speculated that a lifetime ban could be in store for Rodriguez.

ESPN New York reported that Rodriguez was trying to make a deal with Major League Baseball, and USA Today reported that Rodriguez had no intention of negotiating a settlement with MLB.

Baseball's basic agreement says that the commissioner can attempt to discipline a player for just cause in any amount of games he thinks he can justify before an arbitrator. The arbitrator would then apply the just cause standard in assessing the suspension.

Berkowitz said that Rodriguez was visiting his children in Miami and is expected back at the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa for treatment of a grade 1 quadriceps strain. Rodriguez was not seen at the facility Tuesday.

Braun, Rodriguez and other players have been linked to Biogenesis -- a now-shuttered Miami anti-aging clinic -- and its founder, Anthony Bosch, who allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to numerous players. Bosch, who reportedly had detailed entries naming Rodriguez as a client, is thought to be cooperating with MLB in providing information in return for being dismissed from MLB's civil suit in Florida. The suit seeks monetary damages from Bosch and three other defendants with alleged ties to Biogenesis. Bosch's attorney, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said her client has not been dismissed from the suit.

There are increasing indications that Rodriguez, who issued a statement denying any wrongdoing when his name surfaced last winter, might face a lengthy suspension. He could negotiate with MLB or appeal through baseball's arbitration process. The Players Association must file an appeal for any player who decides to challenge a suspension.

Rodriguez, who was diagnosed with the quad strain Sunday at the end of a 20-day minor-league rehabilitation for his surgically repaired left hip, remains on the disabled list. A source has said if Rodriguez stayed on the DL four months from the start of the season, the Yankees would begin collecting a percentage of his salary from a disability policy. That would be on or about Aug. 1.

MLB has set no timetable for announcing future suspensions.

With David Lennon

New York Sports