MLB Suspends A-Rod through 2014, but He Returns to Yankees Lineup

MLB Suspends A-Rod through 2014, but He Returns to Yankees Lineup

Howard Goldin

On the afternoon of Monday, August 5, MLB announced the long-awaited suspensions without pay resulting from the Biogenesis investigation. Those named were suspended for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Not surprisingly, the name of Alex Rodriguez was included in those suspended. Although 12 other players were also suspended, the name of Rodriguez heads the list.

Not only did he receive the longest suspension, but his name is a magnet for headlines. Despite not having played a single game in the majors this year, Rodriguez has received more media attention during the 2013 season than any MLB player. If his appeal is rejected, Rodriguez will be ineligible to play through the end of the 2014 season. The length of the suspension most probably was the factor that resulted in A-Rod’s appeal.

Both Rodriguez and his lawyer, David Cornwall issued statements on Monday afternoon that made clear their intention to appeal. Rodriguez said, “I am disappointed with the penalty and I intend to appeal and fight this through the process.”

His attorney issued an even stronger statement of criticism of MLB, “It is regrettable that the Commissioner has taken this unprecedented action. MLB has gone well beyond the authority granted by its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.” The MLBPA will support the appeal.

Those suspended for 50 games included Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and former Yankee phenom Jesus Montero, who was traded to Seattle on January 23, 2012 in exchange for hurler Michael Pineda, outfielder Jordany Valdespin of the Mets, and 2013 All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Eveth Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Both Montero and Valdespin are currently on the Triple A rosters of their respective organizations. Cervelli is currently on the Yankees’ 60 day disabled list. None of the 12 players suspended will file an appeal. Thus, they will be eligible to be activated for the 2013 playoffs.

The words from Yankees on-the-field personnel on Sunday reflected joy regarding the return of Rodriguez to the team after his rehab from surgery rather than any mention of his expected suspension. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi foresaw no difficulty in A-Rod’s seamless re-entry into the current roster, “I don’t suspect it’ll be awkward. Most of these guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot. I think it’ll be business as usual.”

After his final rehab game with the Trenton Thunder, Rodriguez spoke enthusiastically of playing his first game as a Yankee in 2013 on Monday night against the White Sox, “I’m excited to play Monday. I can’t wait to see my teammates. I feel like I can help them win.”

Two of his experienced teammates extended a welcome to A-Rod. Recently returned Curtis Granderson remarked, “I want him back with us. This is arguably one of the best hitters of all time. Having him in the lineup is obviously going to be very positive for us.”

Robinson Cano, who has felt the responsibility of offensively having to  carry the team for most of the season, commented, “We’re going to be happy to see him back in the lineup, especially the way we’ve been playing. He can come up and help us win some games.”

Since Rodriguez’s suspension does not begin until Thursday, he will be in the starting lineup for the Yankees at U.S. Celllular Field in Chicago this week. Since he has filed a grievance, he remains eligible until the announcement of the decision made by arbitrator Frederic Horowitz; the decision is expected within three weeks and the announcement sometime after.

The fans reacted to the presence of Rodriguez in Chicago on with vociferous booing every mention of his name. It will be interesting to see and hear the reaction of Yankees fans in the Bronx when he returns with the team to Yankee Stadium on Friday remains. How long a suspension Rodriguez will untimely face will not be known until the arbitrator’s decision is made public. It can more safely be predicted that the media and social media discussions of his suspensions will seem to be endless.

Robinson Cano & Alex Rodriguez

Photo by Gemini Keez