The attorney for Alex Rodriguez said Monday that no deal has been discussed with Major League Baseball and that he’s focused on preparing a successful appeal if Rodriguez is suspended in the Biogenesis probe.
“I don’t expect to be standing anywhere other than in a conference room arguing on behalf of Alex and fighting for no discipline,” Atlanta-based lawyer David Cornwell told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN New York Radio. “We believe that we have good, valid and strong defenses for Alex and we intend to present them when the time comes.”
The length of a potential suspension for Rodriguez reportedly could range from 100 games to a lifetime ban.
Cornwell said he has not been approached by MLB officials to discuss a plea arrangement. “No, we’re focused on an appeal,” Cornwell said.
MLB is expected to soon announce suspensions related to its investigation of Biogenesis, which allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez and other players. Ryan Braun of the Brewers has been the only major-leaguer disciplined in the Biogenesis case, agreeing last week to a season-ending suspension of 65 games.
In February 2012, before Braun’s involvement in Biogenesis, Cornwell successfully appealed the 50-game suspension the 2011 National League MVP received after testing positive for testosterone.
“My understanding is that the next step that is going to be taken is that the Players Association and baseball will meet to discuss the investigation and baseball’s focus on particular players,” Cornwell said of the Biogenesis case. “So, we’ll see how that process plays out, but at this point my understanding or my expectation is that we’re going to be working through the process toward an appeal. My job is to represent Alex in connection with an appeal and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
Cornwell indicated that the appeal would include questioning the credibility of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch and Porter Fischer, who worked for Bosch at the clinic and later was identified as the source that supplied the documents behind the Miami New Times’ story linking players to the now-closed anti-aging clinic.
“Obviously, may believe that he’s credible,” Cornwell said of Bosch. “I have my concerns. What’s most important is whether arbitrator Horowitz will believe that he’s credible or not.”
Even if any suspension is appealed, former arbitrator George Nicolau said entering the arbitration process does not preclude the parties from reaching a negotiated settlement at any point.
Rodriguez, who was diagnosed with a grade 1 quadriceps strain July 21 at the end of a 20-day minor-league rehab assignment, resumed workouts in Tampa Monday. He is expected to remain there at least through Thursday on a five-day rehab plan mutually agreed upon by Rodriguez and the Yankees.
Rodriguez was observed working out for nearly an hour. After batting-cage work that included hitting off a tee and taking underhanded pitches, he fielded about two dozen grounders at third, then ran the arc of the bases several times with rehabbing teammate Curtis Granderson. Rodriguez left the complex at 11:55 a.m. without comment.
Rodriguez, if deemed healthy by the Yankees, could rejoin the team in August. If suspended, he could play while the appeals process unfolds.
Players union executive director Michael Weiner earlier this month speculated that the appeal process could spill into the 2014 season, depending on the number of players involved.
The industry source said the union also has asked MLB not to release the names of suspended players who seek to appeal unless the arbitrator upholds the suspension. But the source also said MLB has not made its position clear.
Since the formation of the joint drug agreement, no suspended player publicly named by MLB has been on the field during the appeals process. The joint drug agreement permits MLB to announce any players suspended if their names have appeared in published reports.
Rodriguez also is likely to be facing disciplinary action from the Yankees after his decision to have New Jersey orthopedist Michael Gross review an MRI of his quad injury. A person familiar with the club’s thinking on the matter refused to comment.
Cornwell would not discuss his impression of the Yankees’ relationship with Rodriguez, saying, “The only thing that Alex is focused on right now is trying to get back to playing baseball.”