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Thursday, February 7, 2013
Cervelli out? Doubtful

By Wallace Matthews

Cervelli
PED scandal or no PED scandal, Francisco Cervelli will be competing for the Yankees' starting catcher job next week.
Speculation aside, the fact that Francisco Cervelli's name appears in the records of the Biogenesis "anti-aging clinc," where there was seemingly more on the menu than Botox, and the fact that Cervelli admits to having gone to Anthony Bosch for "legal" treatment of a foot injury really has no bearing on the spring training competition to determine who will be the Yankees' starting catcher this season.

As Andrew Marchand and I have pointed out numerous times since Bosch and Biogenesis became quasi-celebrities in the past week, baseball's collective bargaining agreement pretty much takes whatever punishment is warranted -- and right now, none is -- away from the teams and gives it all to the commissioner's office.

That means that even if Cervelli is found to have obtained and used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, the Yankees can't do anything more than abide by the CBA's stipulated penalty of a 50-game suspension for a first-time offender. Same goes for Alex Rodriguez.

And the ability of MLB to impose that penalty on either Cervelli or Rodriguez is severely hampered by their lack, so far as we know, of a positive drug test on either player. That means MLB would have to obtain a "non-analytic positive" on either of them -- a judgment based not on an empirical test, but through sworn testimony from Bosch or some other witness whose credibility is upheld by an independent arbitrator -- to impose the penalty. Simply having your name appear in someone's notebook is not nearly enough. Such a process could take months, or even years.

In the meantime, the Yankees' catching competition among Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and presumably Bobby Wilson, will proceed as scheduled beginning next week in Tampa.