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MLB concludes defense of Alex Rodriguez's suspension

Alex Rodriguez is seen on the field during

Alex Rodriguez is seen on the field during batting practice before a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. (Aug. 13, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Major League Baseball on Friday concluded its defense of the 211-game suspension imposed on Alex Rodriguez in the Biogenesis probe, a person familiar with the proceeding said.

Rodriguez's lawyers now will try to refute MLB's case and convince arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to overturn the suspension when the hearing resumes after the World Series.

MLB spent eight days, roughly 64 hours, presenting the evidence it believes proves that Rodriguez violated the sport's Joint Drug Agreement and Basic Agreement by using performance-enhancing drugs and impeding its investigation into Biogenesis, the now-closed anti-aging clinic in Miami.

Nearly five days of the hearing was devoted to testimony and then cross-examination of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, who MLB said allegedly supplied PEDs to Rodriguez and other players.

During the first week of the appeal earlier this month, Rodriguez's attorneys filed a suit in the player's name against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, saying there was a "witch hunt" aimed at chasing Rodriguez from the game. The suit also alleged that MLB paid Bosch $5 million in return for his testimony. The allegation was denied by a spokesman for Bosch.

But the alleged payout to Bosch likely will resurface when the hearing reconvenes with Rodriguez lead attorney Joe Tacopina taking the reins.

"This is a credibility issue from A-Rod's side," Manhattan criminal defense attorney Todd Spodek said. "The burden is on Tacopina to furnish the proof; it's not on MLB and its employees."

The question to be answered, Spodek said, is this: "Are you giving money to alter [the witness'] testimony or is it that you are giving money for some ulterior motive" to defame Rodriguez?

"I think Tacopina's goal is going to be twofold," Spodek said. "An attempt to show that their investigation was not done appropriately and they didn't treat A-Rod the same as they treated every other player in MLB, and then I think he's going to do everything in his power to demolish the credibility of any of their witnesses."

On the possibility of Rodriguez testifying in his own behalf, Spodek joined other legal observers who doubt it will occur, saying evidence can be offered "without exposing A-Rod to the perils of testifying."

A source said the presentation on behalf of Rodriguez is expected to last a week.

New York Sports