|AP source: MLB threatening A-Rod with lifetime ban|
|Thursday, August 01, 2013 12:19 AM|
NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is threatening to kick Alex Rodriguez out of the game for life unless the New York Yankees star agrees not to fight a lengthy suspension for his role in the sport’s latest drug scandal, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Whether Commissioner Bud Selig would actually issue a lifetime suspension was unclear and a permanent ban could be shortened by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz to about 200 games, the person added.
The number of players likely to be disciplined stood at 14 Wednesday.
Front and center is Rodriguez, baseball’s highest-paid player and the most prominent one linked in media reports over the past seven months to Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly distributed banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The Yankees expected Rodriguez to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation and not being truthful with MLB in the past. Baseball has considered suspending him for violations of its labor contract and drug agreement.
Even if he is banned from baseball, there is precedent for a shortened penalty: when pitcher Steve Howe was given a lifetime ban in 1992 in his seventh suspension for drug or alcohol use, an arbitrator reduced the penalty to 119 days.
A 3-time MVP, Rodriguez acknowledged four years ago that he used performance-enhancing substances while with Texas from 2001-03 but repeatedly has denied using them since.
He’s been sidelined all season since hip surgery in January and then a quadriceps strain during a minor league rehabilitation assignment in July. The Yankees say he’ll start another rehab Friday — Double-A Trenton appeared to be the likely destination.
“Hopefully Alex will be back shortly thereafter,” Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman said.
Rodriguez didn’t stop to talk with reporters after his workout Wednesday at the team’s minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla.
At first, MLB and the union thought talks on the Biogenesis probe could be completed by Friday but negotiations to avoid grievances are likely to push back announcements until at least Saturday or Sunday.
Others accused in media reports of receiving performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis include a trio of 2013 All-Stars: Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Most of the players face 50-game bans as first offenders. Both sides felt urgency to complete the process because by the middle of next week, teams will have fewer than 50 games left. And that would force players to complete suspensions during the playoffs or at the start of next season.
Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski protected against a possible suspension of Peralta by acquiring slick-fielding infielder Jose Iglesias from Boston in a 3-team trade Tuesday night.
While MLB told the union which players it intends to suspend, it hasn’t issued formal notices of discipline. Because of that, the countdown hasn’t started under baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement, which says the suspensions are effective on the third business day after the notice is issued.
The sides also haven’t decided whether suspensions for first-time offenders who challenge the penalty can be announced before an arbitration decision.
If some stars knew their seasons were about to be cut short, they weren’t letting on Wednesday, at least publicly.
“I can’t talk about nothing right now. Just wait for the news,” Cabrera said Wednesday before playing against Cincinnati.
Peralta thinks he shouldn’t be on the list of players linked to Biogenesis.
“It’s wrong,” he said. “But whatever happens, I need to fight and try to move on.”
Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal were all suspended for 50 games last year for positive tests for elevated testosterone. MLB informed the union they won’t receive additional discipline for that violation, two people familiar with the probe announced, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
“Nothing’s been told to me,” Melky Cabrera said. “I served my suspension last year but MLB has never told me that it’s OK now. I’m seeing it in the press but I don’t know.”
Texas was unable to find a replacement bat to fill a void a suspension of Cruz would create.
Orioles get Norris in quiet trade-deadline day
In the playoff mix for a second straight year, the Baltimore Orioles made the biggest move on a quiet trade-deadline day, acquiring Bud Norris to keep pace with the Boston Red Sox.
Hoping to catch the NL West-leading Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks filled a hole in their bullpen Wednesday by sending struggling 20-game winner Ian Kennedy to San Diego for lefty reliever Joe Thatcher.
Boston put the pressure on Baltimore by picking up 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox less than 24 hours earlier in a 3-team trade. The deal was finalized quickly in part because the Tigers were eager to protect themselves in case shortstop Jhonny Peralta is suspended for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal.
With all eyes on the Yankees because of Rodriguez’s likely suspension by Major League Baseball for his role in the wide-ranging drug case, New York never could work out a deal with the Phillies for corner infielder Michael Young, who is staying — for now — with Philadelphia.
San Francisco also held onto left-hander Javier Lopez and the Los Angeles Angels kept second baseman Howie Kendrick after sending Alberto Callaspo to Oakland late Monday.
Other than a few other minor swaps Wednesday, baseball’s executives did much of their work in the weeks leading up to the 4 p.m. EDT non-waiver trade cutoff.
The busy Cubs sent Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees, Matt Garza to Texas, Scott Feldman to Baltimore and Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers. Francisco Rodriguez, Marc Rzepczynski, Callaspo, Scott Downs and Jesse Crain also switched teams this month.
The NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and the struggling World Series champion Giants were among several teams that chose to stand pat Wednesday in a tepid market.
In the midst of a revival that has an entire city brimming with Bucs fever, Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington reluctantly held back from making any deals.
“We talk a lot about we don’t want to do something stupid,” Huntington said. “We were willing to do something stupid; we just didn’t want to do anything insane.”
Teams can make trades for the rest of the season but it gets riskier. Players must first pass through waivers, meaning they can be claimed by another club before a deal takes place.
For a player to be eligible for the postseason with his new team, swaps must be completed before Aug. 31.
On Wednesday, Houston also sent outfielder Justin Maxwell to Kansas City and the Dodgers picked up backup catcher Drew Butera from Minnesota and sent him to the minors.
Also, Seattle traded minor-league infielder Robert Andino to the Pirates for a player to be named or cash.
The young Astros, with the worst record in baseball at 35-70, dealt reliever Jose Veras — to Detroit on Monday.
Norris only had to walk down the hall to join his new team with Houston in Baltimore. Outfielder L.J. Hoes, one of two prospects sent to Houston, was initially in the Orioles’ lineup but ended up getting the start for the Astros. Class-A left-hander Josh Hader was the other player in the deal.
A 28-year-old right-hander, Norris helps fortify a rotation that will be without injured Jason Hammel for at least the next two weeks.
In his fifth big-league season, Norris is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 21 starts this year. He has a lifetime record of 34-46 and is under team control through 2015.
Baltimore began Wednesday five games back of Boston in the AL East and in the second wild-card position.
The Diamondbacks have fallen 3 1/2 games behind the surging Dodgers and needed lefty relief help. Thatcher is 3-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 50 games this season. He has limited left-handed batters to a .215 average.
The Diamondbacks also got 23-year-old right-hander Matt Stites, who is 2-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 14 saves in 46 games with Double-A San Antonio.
Kennedy, 21-4 two seasons ago, is 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts and hasn’t won a game in two months.
He’s expected to start Sunday at Petco Park against the Yankees, the team that took him in the first round of the June 2006 draft.