Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees follows through on his seventh...

Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees follows through on his seventh inning grad slam against the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 20, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Major League Baseball on Friday night filed a motion in federal court in Manhattan to dismiss a lawsuit by Alex Rodriguez that claims MLB is on a "witch hunt'' to drive him out of the game. Rodriguez's attorneys countered with a motion to return the suit to State Supreme Court, where it was filed Oct. 3.

The suit came in the midst of Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension by MLB, which said the Yankees third baseman violated the sport's joint drug agreement and Basic Agreement based on its probe into Biogenesis, a former anti-aging clinic in Florida that allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez and other players.

Rodriguez's lawyers said in the motion that MLB has "engaged in a systematic effort to destroy Mr. Rodriguez's reputation, including by continually leaking false stories to the media about Mr. Rodriguez . . . Defendants' 'evidence' of his alleged misconduct was the product of paying and pressuring individuals to testify and made to produce documentary evidence against Mr. Rodriguez (which was also leaked to the press) without any regard for the veracity of the purchased evidence.''

MLB's motion read, in part, "Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.''

Legal observers have said Rodriguez's suit has a greater chance of being dismissed in federal court, which has continually ruled in favor of collective bargaining as the long-held remedy for employer-employee disputes.

U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield on Thursday said she might rule on the motions at the next hearing, scheduled for Jan. 23.

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