A-Rod to fight any MLB discipline

Updated: July 30, 2013, 10:23 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez plans on fighting any suspension or banishment from baseball through the appeals process, according to his lawyer.

"We are focused on an appeal," Rodriguez's lawyer, David Cornwell, said in an interview Monday with Stephen A. Smith on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7.

There have been indications that with the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies over, Major League Baseball soon will announce the penalties against Rodriguez and other players involved in the Biogenesis case.

Cornwell said Rodriguez's "primary focus" is playing in the majors again. Rodriguez is in Tampa rehabbing a quad injury that postponed his return to the Yankees last week.

Rodriguez did not speak to reporters in Tampa on Monday, but a source told ESPNNewYork.com that the player has not been told where he would start a rehab assignment on Thursday. The Yankees have made no announcements, either.

If Rodriguez, 38, is deemed healthy, he would be eligible to play during the appeals process, which could take weeks or months. If he has no setbacks physically and spends the full five days on his minor league rehab, Rodriguez could return to the Yankees on Aug. 6 in Chicago against the White Sox.

However, MLB may try to suspend Rodriguez under its collective bargaining agreement instead of its drug rules, according to The Associated Press.

If MLB goes ahead with the suspension under the labor deal, Rodriguez would lose virtually any chance of delaying the penalty while he appeals the case.

He has never been disciplined for a drug offense, and a first offender under baseball's Joint Drug Agreement is entitled to an automatic stay if the players' union files a grievance.

That means the penalty is put on hold until after an arbitrator rules.

But a person familiar with management's deliberations told the AP that MLB could skirt that problem by punishing Rodriguez for other alleged violations.

The Yankees also expect Rodriguez to be accused of not being truthful with MLB in the past when he discussed his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty two years ago to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States from Canada.

Rodriguez hasn't played this season because of a second hip surgery and a Grade 1 quad strain.

Cornwell said the goal for Rodriguez is to have "no discipline," not just a reduction in any suspensions. There have been numerous reports that Rodriguez could face anywhere from a 50-game suspension to a lifetime ban.

Rodriguez would not be paid for any games missed. He has a little less than $100 million remaining on his 10-year, $275 million contract. If Rodriguez were to hit 13 more homers, he would tie Willie Mays with 660 on the all-time list and be awarded a $6 million bonus.

For every 50 games that Rodriguez is suspended, the Yankees would save $7.5 million.

If Rodriguez were suspended, the Yankees may try to void the remainder of his contract, though that is difficult under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Cornwell successfully represented Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun in his appeal of a failed performance-enhancing drug test two years ago. Cornwell did not provide counsel for Braun in the player's agreement last week to serve a 65-game suspension after admitting to violating MLB's drug policy. 

Cornwell said he didn't think Braun's plea deal would impact Rodriguez.

Cornwell has made it clear he will go after the credibility of Biogenesis clinic founder Anthony Bosch, as well as ex-Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer, the man who gave documents to Miami New Times, which broke the initial story about the case in late January.

"Cornwell can get in line with many others who want to attack Porter Fischer for exposing the truth and is left without support. He did it because it was the right thing to do. Bravery and creditability go hand in hand," Gary Smith, spokesperson on behalf of Fischer, told ESPN.com.

Cornwell declined to characterize the state of Rodriguez's relationship with the Yankees.

"Alex's primary focus right now is playing baseball," Cornwell said. "It has been nearly a year since he played. He has gone through his operation. There is no amount of rehab games or simulated games that is going to give him the feel of a live blitz at a major league baseball level. That is where Alex's primary focus is right now."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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