Randy Levine testifies in A-Rod case

Updated: November 19, 2013, 7:33 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews and Matt Ehalt | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Yankees president Randy Levine denied conspiring with Major League Baseball to run Alex Rodriguez out of the game or to personally benefit financially if his 211-game suspension is upheld, according to a source familiar with his testimony before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz on Tuesday.

Under questioning by Joe Tacopina, Rodriguez's lead attorney, Levine deflected a slew of charges leveled at him by the Rodriguez camp, said the source, who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality agreement governing the proceeding stipulated by baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

"It was a very cordial exchange," the source said of the approximately 15-minute session. "Neither side seemed hostile at all."

The source also said that Rodriguez and Levine exchanged greetings from a distance, but did not shake hands. Rodriguez's side has accused the Yankees of colluding with baseball and commissioner Bud Selig in an attempt to avoid paying the final four years of Rodriguez's contract, which is due to pay him a guaranteed $86 million, plus performance bonuses that could total another $30 million.

On his way into the hearing room at baseball's Park Avenue offices, Levine declined to comment on his testimony but did answer a question on whether he believed Rodriguez, who is suing baseball for tortious interference as well as Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad for medical malpractice, would sue the Yankees as well.

"I haven't heard anything," Levine said. "That's up to him and his legal team. We haven't heard anything. This [suspension] is a decision that was made by Major League Baseball. We've had no involvement in it. No participation in it. Alex is our player until we hear anything else. As I've said and [owner Hal Steinbrenner] has said, as [GM Brian] Cashman has said, the way we budget and everything for this year is he's on our team."

According to the source, Levine was asked:

• If he had ever colluded with baseball to have Rodriguez permanently barred from the game

• If it were true, as per a published report, that Levine would receive a bonus from the Yankees if Rodriguez were suspended, resulting in the club not having to pay his $25 million salary for 2014

• If he had ever told Dr. Bryan Kelly, Rodriguez's hip surgeon, "I don't ever want to see him on the field again,"

• If the Yankees had ever sent investigators to interview Rodriguez's cousin, Yuri Sucart, who the slugger had named as his drug supplier when he admitted having used steroids back in 2009.

Levine's answer to each of those questions was "no," according to the source.

Levine was also asked how many times he had discussed the case with Selig and Rob Manfred, baseball's COO who led the investigation into the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic that led to the suspension of a dozen major league players for alleged illegal PED infractions, including Rodriguez.

According to the source, Levine testified he had spoken to Selig twice about the case and to Manfred three times.

"But only in general terms," the source quoted Levine as testifying. "Never about penalties."

Levine, citing confidentiality rules, refused comment on his way out of the hearing room.

"They told me I'm not allowed to talk about it," he said.

Rodriguez, who did not testify Tuesday but may take the stand later in the week, left the hearing without speaking to reporters, which Tacopina said was in response to a renewed request by Horowitz for silence from the involved parties.

"Confidentiality is something they really want to clamp down on," Tacopina said. "Both sides really need to start honoring that. It has to start with me. I can't say anything."

There was a group of approximately 10 supporters at the side exit with signs and photos for Rodriguez to sign. Rodriguez said in Spanish he didn't feel well but he'd see them Wednesday.

The group of supporters, which has been spearheaded throughout the hearing by Hispanics Across America, made a comeback around 3:30 p.m. ET Tuesday after a no-show Monday. Several of the participants Tuesday said they were not part of Hispanics Across America, although they had signs very similar to the ones seen in October.

The signs included "Randy Levine is the devil" and "Bud Selig is the true founder of the steroid era." The group also played instruments and chanted.

Levine had a laugh about the signs bashing him. The group appeared after Levine's testimony already had been completed.

"I might have even made a donation," he joked.

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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Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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