NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez will be suspended today, likely through the 2014 season, as part of Major League Baseball’s latest drug investigation but can play while he appeals, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.
Major League Baseball informed the New York Yankees on Sunday that A-Rod will be suspended for his links to a clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statement was authorized.
The Yankees weren’t told the exact length of the suspension, though they were under the impression it will be through the 2014 season, the person said. The Yankees star could get a shorter penalty if he agrees to give up the right to file a grievance and force the case before an arbitrator, the person added.
A suspension from today through 2014 would add up to 214 games, and an unsuccessful appeal could stretch serving the penalty into 2015. In the era before players and owners agreed to a drug plan in late 2002, arbitrators often shortened drug suspensions – in the case of Yankees pitcher Steve Howe, his penalty was cut from a lifetime ban to 119 days.
MLB planned an announcement for 9 a.m. today, a second person familiar with the deliberations said, also on condition of anonymity.
Rodriguez is the most famous player linked to the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida, and the Yankees expect him to be charged with interfering with MLB’s investigation, resulting in a harsher penalty than the other 13 players facing discipline.
Barring an agreement, Rodriguez’s appeal would be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
Adding to the drama: The 38-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time A.L. MVP, was due to return to the major leagues tonight when the Yankees play at the Chicago White Sox, his first big league appearance since hip surgery in January.
All-Stars Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jhonny Peralta of Detroit and Everth Cabrera of San Diego were among those who could get 50-game suspensions from the probe, sparked in January when Miami New Times published documents linking many players to the closed clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.
Many players were expected to agree to penalties and start serving them immediately, but an appeal by a first-offender under the drug agreement would postpone his suspension until after a decision by an arbitrator.