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NEW YORK -- In an apparent attempt to defuse some of the accusations made in Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit, Major League Baseball is expected to call chief operating officer Rob Manfred as a witness when the hearing on the Yankees third baseman's appeal of his 211-game suspension for alleged performance-enhancing drug use resumes Thursday.
|Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game suspension from MLB before an arbitrator this week.|
Two sources have confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Manfred, who directed baseball's investigation into Biogenesis, the now-shuttered South Florida clinic suspected of supplying illegal PEDs to players, would be called to testify regarding the practices used by MLB to obtain evidence against Rodriguez and other players, including the reported paying of witnesses for information.
It is believed that Manfred's testimony will come Thursday, a source with knowledge of the proceedings told ESPN New York.
"There's a lot of stuff out there about the conduct of the investigation, and [MLB] thought this was the best way to lay them to rest," one of the sources said.
Manfred is also a member of the three-man panel hearing the case.
While it seems highly irregular for a member of the judging panel to serve as a witness for one of the parties it is judging, only one of the three, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, is considered to be neutral.
Manfred, representing MLB, is expected to vote to uphold the suspension. The third member, David Prouty, legal counsel for the players' association, is expected to vote to strike it down.
According to the sources, Manfred is expected to testify about several of the charges made in the lawsuit Rodriguez filed against baseball and commissioner Bud Selig on Oct. 3, alleging that the league's investigators intimidated witnesses, purchased stolen documents to bolster their case and paid Anthony Bosch, the proprietor of Biogenesis, $5 million in exchange for cooperation with the investigation.
Manfred also was the author of the letter handed to A-Rod's attorney, Joe Tacopina, on live television in August offering to waive the confidentiality clause in baseball's collective bargaining agreement, allowing them to make public all of Rodriguez's medical records.
Manfred is named only once in the 32-page filing: "Rob Manfred ... publicly attacked Mr. Rodriguez and requested permission to disseminate his medical records."
Rodriguez's lawsuit alleges tortious interference on the part of MLB, claiming its investigation was part of a campaign to destroy his reputation and run him out of the game.
"Rob is being called so he can make it clear that this wasn't personal against Alex," one of the sources said.
Neither Manfred nor attorneys for Rodriguez were available for comment, citing the confidentiality agreement in the CBA.
MLB is also expected to call lawyer Patrick Houlihan to testify. A-Rod's side alleges in its lawsuit against Selig and MLB that Houlihan called a potential witness "under false pretenses."
Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand was used in this report.