Fischer gets delay to respond to MLB

Updated: August 8, 2013, 6:33 PM ET
By Mike Fish | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- The whistle-blower who turned the Biogenesis clinic's ties to professional baseball players into a national scandal stood before a judge Thursday morning, saying he feels "bullied" by Major League Baseball as its attorneys pressed an emergency court order claiming he had failed to respond to requests that he hand over all of the Biogenesis documents he has.

Porter Fischer, a former employee of the now-shuttered clinic, was given a brief reprieve by Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Ronald Dresnick, who set an Aug. 21 court date during which he is to respond to the far-reaching request from the commissioner's office. Fischer, 49, argued he didn't fully understand the request and needed time to retain an attorney after having parted with his previous counsel last week.

[+] EnlargePorter Fischer
Mike Fish/ESPN.comPorter Fischer, the man who turned the Biogenesis clinic from a quiet investigation in Miami into a national scandal, leaves a Florida courthouse Thursday after refusing to give Major League Baseball Biogenesis documents.

Fischer blew the Biogenesis case open when he turned over boxes of clinic documents to the Miami New Times last year. The initial disclosure, as well as documents subsequently obtained by "Outside the Lines" from other sources, played a pivotal role in the suspensions to date of 14 players, including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta. The lone challenge came from Rodriguez, who formally filed an appeal Wednesday of his 211-game suspension -- based not only on alleged use of numerous performance-enhancing substances over multiple years but also attempts to cover up the alleged violations and conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."

MLB attorneys have used a local civil lawsuit filed in March against clinic operator Tony Bosch, as well as five others affiliated with Biogenesis, in an attempt to gain cooperation and access to clinic records. The suit proved successful in gaining the cooperation of Bosch, who is not licensed as a health care professional in Florida, in return for baseball promising to release him from the suit, provide personal security and other considerations.

Attorneys for the others named in the suit, which is assumed MLB will drop once its South Florida investigation concludes, have accused MLB of bullying tactics. Fischer, who isn't named in the suit, echoed the refrain after being dragged into court Thursday.

"This isn't right. Why am I being bullied like this?" Fischer asked repeatedly outside the 13th-floor courtroom. "Major League Baseball is the bad guy here, not me.

"You wouldn't be here [with players suspended] if not for me. And this is my cupcake? This is my thank you?"

Fischer is believed to possess the most extensive set of Biogenesis documents, though he says he previously provided a similar set to a friend, which he suspects were passed on to Rodriguez, the embattled Yankees slugger. Fischer contends to have more detailed documents than Bosch.

Fischer acknowledges there is a possibility the documents contain names not previously raised by MLB, as well as a smattering of athletes from other sports who dealt with Bosch and his South Florida clinics.

"Bosch is only going to cop to what is in front of him," Fischer said. "I doubt he has copies of handwritten [patient] notes. And do you think he's going to tell them he injected high school players?"

Earlier in its investigation, MLB sought repeatedly to gain Fischer's cooperation, at one point offering as much as $125,000 to bring him into the fold. Now it has moved on to an angry cat-and-mouse game, with MLB playing hardball and Fischer trying to skirt subpoena servers parked outside his front door.

Dresnick asked at least a half-dozen times Thursday whether Fischer was still in possession of the documents, which led to vague, rambling responses. Fischer noted on each occasion that he didn't feel comfortable engaging MLB's legal eagles without his own counsel, telling the judge he would prefer to be held in contempt of court rather than make a verbal misstep.

"You're running around in circles here," Dresnick told Fischer at one point.

"This is intimidating," Fischer responded.

Dresnick said MLB filed the emergency order out of concern that whatever documents Fischer has may "disappear." Adriana Riviere-Badell, the lead MLB attorney at the hearing, declined comment outside the courtroom on the significance of the documents, especially in light of the players having already been suspended, or why MLB feels entitled to them.

After the hearing, Riviere-Badell left the courthouse with an attorney monitoring the legal proceedings for the MLB Players Association.

MLB has asked for an exhaustive list of items it believes Fischer is in possession of, such as all documents associated with Biogenesis and Biokem -- Bosch's two most recent clinics -- clinic and personal financial records, his correspondence with clinic associates and personal and professional email exchanges with a Miami New Times reporter.

The whistle-blower left the court less inclined than ever to aid the investigation, feeling MLB has kicked him to the curb after having been unable to previously cut a deal.

"I need to get it into law enforcement's hands," Fischer said of the documents. "If not, all of this will have been for nothing."

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