Report: MLB, Alex Rodriguez use extreme tactics in arbitration battle
Major League Baseball attorneys and investigators and Alex Rodriguez's defense team have used extraordinary tactics in their arbitration fight, including harassing witnesses, paying for evidence, leaking information, allegedly engaging in intimate relationships and chasing down country club caddies, according to a New York Times report.
The factions currently are engaged in the arbitration of Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game doping suspension tied to MLB's investigation of the former Biogenesis clinic. MLB's actions show its intent to finally punish a superstar player it believes has been violating its doping rules for years -- before Bud Selig resigns as commissioner after the 2014 season -- while Rodriguez believes he is being persecuted unfairly. Thirteen players discovered to have had ties to the clinic accepted suspensions of at least 50 games that expired at the end of the 2013 season.
The Times report includes anecdotes of subpoenas served inside the Times Square Toys R Us store, a witness who claims she became intimately involved with an investigator, witnesses who have changed stories during the process and a previously undisclosed charge that Rodriguez failed a drug test for stimulants in 2006.
Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs only from 2001 to 2003, when MLB and the players union had no penalties. His $275 million contract with the Yankees that expires in 2017 and his legacy as one of the game's greatest players are at stake.
The report's highlights include:
On May 2013, MLB investigators showed up unannounced at the Dominican Republic home of Bruli Medina Reyes, a trainer for Rodriguez and other players, to talk with him about his clients and their connections to Biogenesis. Reyes denies seeing Rodriguez being injected with PEDs, while MLB investigators have two documents -- in English and Spanish -- signed by Reyes stating he witnessed his client doping. Reyes said he signed them without fully reading them.
“I told them I knew nothing about that,” Mr. Reyes said in the interview, which was arranged by his lawyer, Roberto Cuan.
Stefanie Moon, a lawyer for Loraine Delgadillo, a nurse who worked at Biogenesis, recounted how her client became intimately involved with MLB's investigative unit head Daniel T. Mullin, a 23-year veteran of the New York Police Department. The lawyer said that Delgadillo had provided representatives for Rodriguez with an affidavit about the relationship. The nurse recounted she had meals and drinks and slept with the investigator who nourished the relationship with a bouquet of flowers.
Over the following weeks, Ms. Moon said, Mr. Mullin met with Ms. Delgadillo three times, treating her to dinners and drinks at Town Kitchen and Bar and Akashi Japanese Restaurant, and a meal at Big Pink in South Beach.
Ms. Moon said that Ms. Delgadillo said in the affidavit that she and Mr. Mullin became intimate, and he spent the night at her home.
Mullin denied the allegations and the lawyer said Delgadillo accepted $100,000 from Rodriguez’s representatives in exchange for the card signed by the investigator that came with the flowers, his business card and access to her phone for text messages.
As Rodrgiuez was beginning his appeal at arbitration, MLB COO Rob Manfred played a round of golf with his son and another MLB executive. A former employee of Manhattan Woods Golf Club who was not at the course that day emailed a lawyer for Rodriguez, claiming Manfred had discussed the case during the round.
Investigators tracked down Manfred's caddie, Jason Firestone, who said they told him that if he did not cooperate, “the golf course was going to go under.”
“They kept calling me, telling me they were going to ruin my life,” Mr. Firestone said about his conversations with the investigators.
The original tipster later contacted Rodriguez’s representatives again and explained that he was a fan of the Yankees and Rodriguez and had made up the story.
Eric Gallowitz, the private investigator who questioned Mr. Firestone, denied that he bullied Mr. Firestone. “Never happened,” he said.