Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sports
MLB expected to suspend Alex Rodriguez through 2014 on Monday
by Tiffany Shepherd


CBS SPORTS-- Barring a last-minute change in tone and strategy by embattled Yankee Alex Rodriguez, Major League Baseball is expected to suspend Rodriguez through 2014 when it announces at least 10 suspensions Monday.

Rodriguez still has a day to try to cut a deal for a slightly lesser ban, but based on his latest suggestion according to a person briefed on the matter that he serve only 100 games, then "walk away from the game," the hope for a settlement is diminishing as the clock ticks.

Rodriguez reached out to both MLB and the Yankees on Saturday looking to make a deal for less than half MLB's offered ban of 214 games, then bizarrely threw in the suggestion that he could retire with full pay after he served the 100 games.

Of course, the reality is that he wouldn't be paid if he retires, a major point he apparently missed as he tries to recoup as much of the $95 million remaining on his Yankees deal as he can.

Previously, Rodriguez had suggested to people involved in the case that he should receive a penalty of "less than (Ryan) Braun," figuring that since he didn't fail a non-survey test he should be lumped in with the other nine or so Biogenesis-linked players never previously suspended.

Rodriguez's new offer to "walk away" seems to call into question how badly he wants to come back to play for the Yankees and seems to emphasize the financial aspect of things instead.

If A-Rod went to MLB people and admitted his wrongdoing -- what is said to be "massive violations" -- and agreed to a penalty in the range of one year (162 games), it's possible MLB would listen. But Rodriguez appears more likely at the moment to decide to appeal the 214-game ban through '14 and take his chances with new MLB arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.

A lifetime ban, while mentioned earlier, appears to be off the table.

Rodriguez doesn't seem to have the right mindset to accept even a 214-game ban. "He thinks he's the victim. He can't take responsibility," said one person involved in the case.

Yet another involved person put it more bluntly, "He's clueless as to what he did wrong."

MLB and the union declined comment.

Rodriguez's PR man, Ron Berkowitz, didn't return messages. His camp has been saying it would fight until the end, even as Rodriguez reached out to the Yankees and MLB Saturday in hopes of setting up a meeting.

The initial response from both entities was not to meet, but if he struck a tone of responsibility and bargained closer to the 214 games, they might listen.

If Rodriguez is banned through 2014, he'd lose $34 million of the $95 million remaining on his contract.

With evidence that Rodriguez obtained steroids every year from 2009 on, he would seem to have an uphill fight ahead of him on appeal. His difficult case might be based on the fact that he's never failed a test and that the biggest penalty previously issued to an MLB player was 100 games, received by former pitcher Guillermo Mota and slugger Manny Ramirez, for second failed tests.

However, MLB has reason to believe Rodriguez was recruiting other players to be involved with the non-defunct Miami "wellness" clinic and wonders whether he tried to impede the investigation by purchasing Biogenesis documents.

The suggestion by Rodriguez he could "walk away from the game" is curious as he continues to play in Trenton on rehab assignment and is telling people he feels great. With him saying aloud that he feels great, he couldn't possibly recover insurance monies now. Players have to be suffer a disability to collect insurance.

Meantime, he is due to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in Chicago -- whether he wants to or not.

Assuming he continues to feel "great," the only things that could prevent a date in Chicago Monday would be the long-shot possibility commissioner Bud Selig might invoke the "best interests" clause or a sudden about-face for him, meaning acceptance of responsibility and a penalty of 214 games, or something close to 214 games.