Alex Rodriguez has prepared for a showdown with Major League Baseball by enlisting the help of the sports attorney who successfully appealed Ryan Braun's suspension in 2011, according to two sources. Baseball's investigation into a Miami-based anti-aging clinic could result in a 100-game suspension for Rodriguez, which would save the Yankees $15 million, according to an industry source.
Atlanta-based attorney David Cornwell, the specialist in players' rights who represented Braun during his successful appeal of a 50-game suspension for elevated testosterone levels in 2011, joins attorney Jay Reisinger of Pittsburgh in representing Rodriguez.
Cornwell, who a source said no longer represents Braun, helped the Brewers outfielder, coming off his MVP season, become the first player in the history of MLB's drug program to have a suspension overturned.
Rodriguez and Braun are at the forefront of the investigation into numerous players alleged to be clients of Biogenesis, the now-shuttered anti-aging clinic. Newsday reported Friday that MLB has many more witnesses in addition to Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, whose character could come into question for the deal he reportedly struck. In return for his cooperation, MLB reportedly has dropped its lawsuit against Bosch, has agreed to pay his legal fees and will help him avoid possible criminal prosecution.
When contacted Friday and asked if Bosch has met with MLB investigators, Bosch's lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said, "We have no comment on anything."
Rodriguez participated in a 50-minute workout at the Yankees' minor-league facility in Tampa, Fla., Friday, a session highlighted by a home run derby-style batting practice. About an hour later, he exited in a black Chevy Suburban, bypassing a handful of reporters and autograph-seekers awaiting him at the facility's entrance.
Rodriguez, rehabbing a surgically repaired hip, began his on-field work with some brief long-tossing before fielding grounders while standing and on his knees. During batting practice, more than a dozen of his shots went over the fence or hit the 20-foot wall in dead centerfield. He ended the workout by jogging several laps around the outer edge of the diamond.
The Yankees have said publicly that they expect Rodriguez to return to the majors at some point after the All-Star break.
Rodriguez still is owed roughly $104 million through the 2017 season. If Rodriguez were suspended 100 games, the $15 million would come off the payroll and luxury tax. A 50-game suspension would result in savings of a little more than $8 million.
Any savings on A-Rod's salary would help the Yankees achieve their goal of trimming the team's payroll beneath the $189-million luxury-tax threshold in 2014.
A-Rod's contract cannot be terminated because of any suspension, according to the MLB Players Association agreement. But if Rodriguez misses four months because of an injury -- starting from Opening Day -- an insurance policy kicks in to pay the remainder of his salary for the season.
If Rodriguez tries to come back and is unable to play, a doctor could declare him disabled and the Yankees would get 80 percent of his remaining salary from the insurance company.
If MLB issues suspensions of the Biogenesis-linked players, under the Joint Drug Agreement, the penalties would not be announced if those players choose to appeal. They would continue to play and be paid by their respective clubs until the appeal is heard by an arbitrator.
The time frame from the handing down of a suspension to an arbitration hearing could be weeks or months, depending on the magnitude of the case and evidence to be presented.
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