- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was greeted Tuesday morning by about 50 supporters outside Major League Baseball's headquarters in midtown Manhattan, where his grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game suspension enters its second day.
The supporters, who said they were from a New York-based group called Hispanics Across America, surrounded Rodriguez at the steps of the Park Avenue office building and chanted "Alex! Alex!"
Rodriguez arrived in a black SUV with lawyer Joseph Tacopina at approximately 9:30 a.m. ET. He thanked the supporters in Spanish before heading inside. The supporters held signs that read "Randy Levine is the Devil" and "No Justice No Peace."
A-Rod was mobbed by fans when he left the building at 6:11 p.m., stopping to sign autographs on the way to his car. "I feel good," he told the crowd, which swelled to approximately 75 people by mid-afternoon.
"A-Rod has been drug-tested more than any major league player and has never tested positive for the use of steroids," the group's president, longtime New York community activist Fernando Mateo, said in a statement. "[Team president] Randy Levine and the N.Y. Yankees are responsible for this unfair 211-game suspension."
Mateo was unable to appear as expected at a sidewalk news conference as a result of a bizarre early-morning incident in which he was burned by hot coffee that was spilled on him by a security guard. Mateo's attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, spoke to reporters, alleging that the coffee was deliberately thrown at Mateo by a woman who is believed to work in the building. Mateo was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center, where he was treated and released. (Mateo later told ESPN NewYork.com he is suffering from back pain, neck pain and high blood pressure as a result of the incident, and plans to press charges against the woman.)
"We're not here to tell you that Alex is guilty or innocent," said Sergio Rodriguez, executive director of HAA. "All we are saying is, treat him fairly, the same way you have treated everybody else that has been in violation of the drug policy."
Rodriguez was suspended Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract. Because he's a first offender under the drug program and the players' association filed a grievance to force an appeal, a suspension can't start until it is upheld by an arbitrator.