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Alex Rodriguez is likely to play out the remainder of this season for the New York Yankees because the appeal process of his 211-game suspension for multiple drug violations is proceeding slowly, according to sources familiar with the process.
Rodriguez's suspension was announced Aug. 5, but Major League Baseball and Rodriguez still have yet to finalize a date to begin a hearing in front of arbitrator Frederic Horowitz. The two sides have exchanged possible dates at the end of this month to begin the hearing, the sources said, though even those dates are subject to change and Horowitz's schedule.
The Joint Drug Agreement suggests a timeline of 20 days to conduct the hearing once the appeal has been filed and a decision by the arbitrator within 25 days of the hearing's opening. However, union executive director Michael Weiner said immediately upon the suspension that he did not expect a resolution to A-Rod's appeal until November or December. The JDA does allow changes to the timeline in cases with “good cause” for delays.
MLB would like to expedite the process, while Rodriguez assures himself of playing this season as long as it is slow-tracked. Managers and players in recent days have expressed growing frustration in public and private about the pace of the appeal out of concern that the only player among 14 connected to Biogenesis who filed an appeal can affect two months of pennant race games. Rodriguez has not stated his innocence, but rather has positioned himself to seek a reduction of the length of the suspension. Weiner told Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM last week that he advised Rodriguez to accept a suspension if offered a specific number of games; Weiner said that MLB never presented that number.
Meanwhile, a report by 60 Minutes said Rodriguez's “inner circle” was the source of a February leak that first connected Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli to Biogenesis documents. The report said “members of Rodriguez’s camp” obtained unredacted Biogenesis documents and leaked them to Yahoo! Sports. David Cornwell, an attorney for Rodriguez, denied the allegations.
Whether Rodriguez purchased documents is expected to be one of the many key elements of the appeal process. Former Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer told the Miami New Times in June that Rodriguez did obtain the documents. Fischer was the source of the original report in the New Times regarding Biogenesis. Rodriguez, through a spokesman, has denied purchasing documents. Any such purchase could be considered as an obstruction of the investigation and a violation of the Joint Drug Agreement or Collective Bargaining Agreement. When MLB suspended Rodriguez Aug. 5, it cited multiple years of PED use as well as his attempt to “obstruct and frustrate” the investigation.
The hearing is expected to swing on the difference between how MLB and Rodriguez view how often he violated the JDA. MLB will argue that years of PED use involving multiple drugs as well as obstructing the investigation add up to multiple violations, thus explaining why Rodriguez received more than the 50-game ban handed out to first-time offenders. Rodriguez’s representatives argued to MLB officials prior to the suspension that with no prior violations on record of the JDA he should be treated as a first- and one-time offender if any infractions were found.