Will Alex be welcome among the Bombers?

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
Alex Rodriguez
NEW YORK -- We all know Alex Rodriguez will not be playing for the Yankees this season, and as we learned last week when he decided to drop his fight to overturn the 162-game suspension incurred by MLB for his involvement with Biogenesis, he no longer plans to crash spring training when the Yankees open camp in Tampa beginning on Friday.

But it's a long season and it's tough to imagine A-Rod, who truly loves baseball, being able to stay away from the game for the next eight months. So what exactly is a player under suspension permitted to do in regards to baseball?

I submitted a short list of questions on the subject to an MLB spokesman. Here they are, along with the responses:

--Is he allowed to attend any MLB games, or is he barred from ballparks?

A Player suspended under the Joint Drug Program is not barred from ballparks. It is a Club decision whether a suspended Player should be permitted in a ballpark, but he should not be in uniform at any point and should not be in the dugout, on the field, with his teammates, or seen by fans at any point after the gates open on game days.

--Can he enter the Yankees clubhouse to visit teammates?

It is a Club decision whether a Player suspended under the Joint Drug Program should be permitted in a clubhouse, but a suspended Player should not be in the clubhouse at any time that reporters have access.

--Is he allowed to use any MLB training facilities?

A Player suspended under the Joint Drug Program is not prohibited from working out with his Club at certain permissible times during his suspension. It is a Club decision to allow a suspended Player to work out in Club facilities at any time on non-game days and on game days up until the time gates are opened.

--Could he play in an Independent League?

A Player under contract with a Major League Club is not permitted to play in an Independent League.

--Could he play in Japan?

A Player under contract with a Major League Club is not permitted to play in Japan.

--Is he still subject to random drug testing during the suspension?

A Player suspended under the Joint Drug Program remains subject to testing at all times.

--Is his merchandise still being sold on MLB websites?

A Player’s suspension under the Joint Drug Program does not affect a his merchandise from being sold on MLB-affiliated websites. (FYI, Rodriguez replica jerseys are still available on Yankees.com for $99.99).

--Does he have to apply for reinstatement at the end of his suspension or is he automatically reinstated?

Pursuant to Section 7.I of the Joint Drug Program, a suspended Player shall be reinstated from the Restricted List immediately at the conclusion of the specified period of ineligibility.

I found it rather interesting that the questions regarding visiting his Yankees teammates in the clubhouse or using the team's training facilities are left to the discretion of the club. So I emailed GM Brian Cashman to find out what the Yankees policy would be regarding their (temporarily) banished third baseman.

Here was his terse reply: "No interest in talking about Alex."

Draw your own conclusions.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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