Yanks could relegate A-Rod in spring

Updated: January 12, 2014, 6:19 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- If Alex Rodriguez were to attend spring training next month despite his suspension, the Yankees could relegate him to the team's minor league facility, baseball officials told ESPNNewYork.com on Sunday.

The Yankees will not make any final decisions about their course of action until speaking with the commissioner's office about the loophole in the suspension rules.

"These are uncharted waters," one official said.

Rodriguez has made it known he will be in Tampa, Fla. 

"As of now, Alex is planning on attending spring training," his spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, said.

Berkowitz said he could not answer if Rodriguez would still go if he were slated to be on the minor league side.

Technically, according to sources, Rodriguez is allowed to train at the club's facility during spring training because his discipline for violating the Joint Drug Agreement covers the regular season and the postseason, not the preseason.

Since Rodriguez is not on the Yankees' 40-man roster because of the suspension, one official said that would give the Yankees the right to send him to workouts with minor leaguers instead of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and the rest of his big-league contemporaries.

One official said the Yankees could go as far as to have Rodriguez on the minor league side but instruct their coaches to basically ignore him -- to not hit him grounders or throw him batting practice.

To prevent the media circus from disrupting their training, the Yankees could cut Rodriguez -- whom they now owe $61 million from 2015-2017 -- but they would be responsible for paying him anyway. There have been no indications from the Yankees they are thinking about cutting him.

Rodriguez plans on seeking an injunction and going to federal court to try to have independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz's decision overturned. His side claims that A-Rod should be allowed to prepare properly for the season in case they are successful in court.

His lead attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said they will file the suit Monday, according to ABC News.

A-Rod will not be able to play in any other leagues while on suspension. The Japanese, South Korean and Taiwan Leagues honor MLB's drug agreement. Meanwhile, sources said Rodriguez would jeopardize the remaining $61 million on his contract if he were to play in an Independent League.

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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