- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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NEW YORK -- As first reported by Newsday, Alex Rodriguez is expected to testify before the three-member arbitration panel -- OK, he will be performing essentially for independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, since the other two votes (Rob Manfred of MLB and David Prouty of the players' association) are already spoken for -- when the hearing into his grievance against baseball's 211-game suspension for alleged PED use resumes Monday.
And while it is unlikely A-Rod will slip up and say something that gets him into further hot water, there is a real and inherent danger in having him testify: the possibility that his testimony before Horowitz could conflict with what he told a Buffalo grand jury in 2010 during the investigation of Dr. Anthony Galea, the Toronto-based sports doctor who admitted smuggling human growth hormone into the United States.
That testimony is still under seal, and while MLB filed a motion in October to have A-Rod's testimony unsealed, there has been no indication it will ever be made public. But if, for example, Rodriguez testifies before Horowitz that he never used HGH, it could open the door for baseball to renew its efforts to make his grand jury testimony public on the grounds that MLB suspects he answered the question differently three years ago, according to a source with legal training who is familiar with the case and spoke to ESPNNewYork.com on condition of anonymity.
That is where the danger for Rodriguez arises, not in the "preinterview process" agreed to by the players in the current collective bargaining agreement. According to a source familiar with the process, baseball is entitled to conduct a preinterview with any player who chooses to testify in his own defense at a hearing -- with defense lawyers present, of course -- but there is no electronic recording or stenography taken. The only record of what Rodriguez says will be whatever notes are made by the lawyers.
In addition to the fact that there will be no tape or verbatim transcript of his words to prove definitively what was said, it is expected that A-Rod will be carefully coached by his high-priced legal team to ensure what he says is consistent at both sessions. "They should be able to pull that off," the source said, "Unless, of course, he's really limited, if you know what I mean."
It is expected that Rodriguez will testify to having never obtained illegal substances from Anthony Bosch, the proprietor of the now shuttered Biogenesis "anti-aging clinic," and may cite the example of Gio Gonzalez -- the Washington Nationals pitcher whose name also wound up in Bosch's records but has not been disciplined by MLB -- as evidence that some players went to Bosch for legal supplements.
That may serve him well for the arbitration hearing; sources tell me A-Rod will not accept a single day's suspension and plans to take his case to federal court if Horowitz rules against him. But it could backfire if baseball is successful in getting his Buffalo testimony unsealed.