New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has no intention of negotiating a settlement with Major League Baseball, two persons close to Rodriguez told USA TODAY Sports, and currently plans to appeal any potential suspension.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, while Rodriguez continues to seek counsel from his legal team.
Major League Baseball is prepared to suspend Rodriguez at least 100 games, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation, for his role with Biogenesis, alleged lies about past performance-enhancing drug use and possible interference in the investigation.
Rodriguez, who has not played this season as he recovers from January hip surgery, remains determined to play this season and fight any doping charges despite a 65-game suspension accepted Monday by Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun. The persons close to Rodriguez said he does not view Braun’s case as a comparison for his own.
Yet MLB officials believe that Rodriguez’s history with doping is more extensive than Braun’s. In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to steroid use from 2001-03 while playing for the Texas Rangers. He had a relationship with Anthony Galea, a doctor convicted for smuggling performance-enhancing drugs. MLB also is probing whether he attempted to destroy evidence in the Biogenesis investigation.
Rodriguez and his lawyers met July 12 for 4½ hours in Tampa with MLB investigators in which they disclosed evidence that Rodriguez purchased and was administered performance-enhancing drugs from the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic. The level of Rodriguez’s cooperation was unknown, but he publicly has denied any involvement with clinic director Tony Bosch or the facility.
If Rodriguez is suspended for at least 100 games, he stands to lose about $14 million this season and about $7 million next year. He has about $98 million remaining in his 10-year, $275 million contract.
Rodriguez, 37, was scheduled to make his season debut Monday against the Texas Rangers but was diagnosed Sunday with a strained left quadriceps and sent back to the Yankees’ facility in in Tampa.
Rodriguez, according to two persons close to him, was furious by the decision and is considering seeking a second opinion, with hopes of persuading Yankees general manager Brian Cashman to change his mind.
The team’s decision to ship him back to Florida only strengthened Rodriguez’s belief that the Yankees don’t want him to return this season, all while he remains in MLB’s crosshairs over the Biogenesis scandal.
Mistrust between the sides has been rampant even before Rodriguez underwent his surgery, cresting June 25 when Cashman profanely urged Rodriguez to “shut up” after he took to Twitter to announce he was soon to begin minor league rehab games.
“I refuse to quit,” Rodriguez told USA TODAY Sports earlier this month as his minor league rehab assignment began. “Maybe it’s stupidity, I don’t know, but I’m wired to compete and give my best. I have a responsibility to be ready to play as soon as I can.”
But Rodriguez has told advisors he believes the Yankees don’t want him return to the field, despite public proclamations to the contrary.
Should Rodriguez be declared physically unable to play, the Yankees would collect 80% of the remaining money on his contract from insurance. After this season, the Yankees still owe Rodriguez $86 million over four years.
“We do want him back,” team president Randy Levine told USA TODAY Sports last week, two days before Rodriguez’s quadriceps injury emerged. “We just want to make sure that when he comes back, he stays healthy.”
Meanwhile, the Yankees wait, with manager Joe Girardi and the team wondering whether Rodriguez will join them again this season.
“I can’t say anything because I don’t know what happened with Alex,” Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. “He’s my teammate, and I have to support him 100%. I really don’t know until something differnet happens. We need to see what follows.
“He’s my teammate. He’s my brother. I’m not saying he did or didn’t do it, but if it happens, I can’t throw him in the street. He’s still my brother.”
Yet, no matter the outcome in the Rodriguez case, the steroid cloud continues to hover above the Yankees and doesn’t appear that it will dissipate anytime soon.
“I’m tired of the steroids,” Girardi said. “I’m just tired of it. Just do things right, bottom line. Everyone should do things the right way, but that’s not the world we live in. ... “I would just like to see people do things the right way. The message to me is, and I think it’s a great message for kids – if you cheat and you lie, you’re eventually going to get caught.”
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