Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez laughs as he speaks to...

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez laughs as he speaks to the media after reporting to the Yankees' Minor League complex for rehabilitation. (May 6, 2013) Credit: AP

If his appeal to a federal court does not work out and Alex Rodriguez still wants to play baseball in 2014, he does have an option, and he would not have to go very far. The Long Island Ducks are leaving the door open.

"While some MLB suspensions have been honored by the Atlantic League in the past, if Alex Rodriguez were unable to participate in the major leagues this season, we would be open to exploring giving him a chance to play, stay sharp and compete against a high level of competition while helping the Ducks chase a third consecutive championship," Ducks president Michael Pfaff said Saturday in an email.

To join the Ducks or any other team, however, it's likely that A-Rod would have to get the Yankees' permission.

Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ruled Saturday that Rodriguez must sit out the entire 2014 season in the longest drug-related suspension in major-league history. That would severely restrict him from playing elsewhere because other professional leagues such as the one in Japan generally honor Major League Baseball suspensions.

But the Atlantic League, to which the Ducks belong, is not affiliated with the major leagues and can offer employment to whomever it chooses. Among those who have played in the league (with the Newark Bears) is Jose Canseco, the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Steroids," who was a user-turned-whistleblower about performance-enhancing drugs.

Whether Rodriguez actually would want to play in independent ball is an open question, but he does have an open invitation.

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