Alex Rodriguez suspended through 2014, others accept deals
For as outsized a media production as Alex Rodriguez’s suspension became, the MLB delivered the official news in understated fashion with a simple press release Monday afternoon.
Rodriguez has been suspended through the end of the 2014 season.
“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all of this.”
He is available to play Monday night in Chicago though the lineup has yet to be made.
MLB released the following statement:
“Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced today that third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 Championship Season and Postseason and the entire 2014 Championship Season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement.
Rodriguez’s discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez’s discipline under the basic agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation. The suspension, which will become effective on Thursday, Aug. 8., will cover 211 championship season games and any 2013 postseason games in which Rodriguez otherwise would have been eligible to play.
Under the terms of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Rodriguez’s suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline.”
Selig also released his own quote about the situation:
“Major League Baseball has worked diligently with the Players Association for more than a decade to make our Joint Drug Program the best in all of professional sports. I am proud of the comprehensive nature of our efforts – not only with regard to random testing, groundbreaking blood testing for human Growth Hormone and one of the most significant longitudinal profiling programs in the world, but also our investigative capabilities, which proved vital to the Biogenesis case. Upon learning that players were linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, we vigorously pursued evidence that linked those individuals to violations of our program. We conducted a thorough, aggressive investigation guided by facts so that we could justly enforce our rules.”
The road to suspension began in January with a report by the Miami New Times that looked into a clinic called Biogenesis run by Anthony Bosch. The report detailed a pattern of providing big-name athletes, including Rodriguez and the now-suspended Ryan Braun, with performance-enhancing drugs. MLB began an investigation soon thereafter, which culminated in Monday’s suspensions.
Some reports speculated Commissioner Bud Selig would invoke the “best interest of baseball” clause in the collective bargaining agreement and try to keep Rodriguez from playing while he appealed the suspension. That turns out not to be the case and Rodriguez is expected to be in Yankees manager Joe Girardi’s lineup Monday.
“We are in full support of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the Yankees said in a statement. “We also recognize and respect the appeals process. Until the process under the Drug Program is complete, we will have no comment.”
According to the CBA, an appeal must be heard within 20 days and ruled on within another 25 days. That does open up the possibility that Rodriguez could play much of the rest of the season before an arbitrator hears his case.
“If he’s in there [the clubhouse], I’m going to play him,” manager Joe Girardi said Sunday.
Rodriguez has not played in 2013. He underwent hip surgery in January and as he approached his return date in July he strained his quad. Rodriguez spent the past weekend in Double-A Trenton, where he was 1-for-2 with a home run and five walks (four in one game) in two starts.
During his brief time out while resting his quad, Rodriguez’s personal doctor, Michael Gross, accused the Yankees of intentionally holding Rodriguez out. He said he had looked at an MRI and saw no strain. The Yankees and Rodriguez patched up the falling out, but Rodriguez again alluded to a schism between himself and the team following his Friday night rehab game in Trenton.
“There are a lot of layers,” Rodriguez told reporters after the game. “I will say this, there is more than one party that benefits from me not being on the field. It’s not my teammates and not the fans.”
The Yankees will not be on the hook for Rodriguez’s salary during his suspension. He is due at least $86 million over the remaining four years of his contract. Bonus incentives could increase the total to $120 million, but it is now unlikely he will reach all of the benchmark homers required to reach that figure.
Over the course of a 214-game suspension (the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014), the Yankees would save about $34 million, including $25 million in 2014.
The Yankees addressed the issue Rodriguez alluded to last Friday, as well as the incident involving Gross, in their official statement Monday.
“We are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter,” the statement said. “The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.”
In addition to Rodriguez and Braun, the suspensions reportedly include Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Seattle catcher Jesus Montero, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Philadelphia reliever Antonio Bastardo, Houston reliever Sergio Escalona, Padres reliever Fautino de los Santos, Mets outfielder Cesar Puello and Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin. Jordan Norberto, who pitched with Oakland last season, is a free agent who appears on the list.
They will all accept 50-game bans, essentially ending their regular seasons.
Cruz may end up being the biggest loss, despite Rodriguez being the biggest name. Cruz is fourth in baseball with 27 home runs. He is batting .269 with a .330 on-base percentage and 76 RBIs. The Rangers currently stand 2 1/2 games back of Oakland in the AL West and 1/2 game behind Cleveland for the second wild-card spot.
Mets players Valdespin and Puello are both currently in the minors. Puello, 22, is batting .328 with 16 homers with Double-A. Valdespin, who played 66 games with the Mets this season, reportedly got into a verbal spat with manager Terry Collins when he was sent down last month. He was hitting .188 at the time. He’s batting .466 in 16 games with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.