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A-Rod Lone Holdout In MLB’s Biogenesis Suspensions; Season Debut Monday?

AP Source: Rodriguez Can Play While Fighting Ban
Alex Rodriguez (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez figures to have a one-of-a-kind day on Monday. He’ll receive a lengthy suspension from baseball and then head to the ballpark to play for the New York Yankees for the first time this season.

A-Rod’s suspension — through the 2014 season, according to CBS News — was to be announced Monday as part of Major League Baseball’s latest drug investigation.

Major League Baseball informed the Yankees on Sunday that A-Rod will be suspended for his links to a clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statement was authorized.

But the person also said A-Rod will be eligible to play while he appeals the penalty to an arbitrator.

The Yankees weren’t told the exact length of the suspension, though they were under the impression it will be through the 2014 season, the person said.

The Yankees star could get a shorter penalty if he agrees to give up the right to file a grievance and force the case before an arbitrator, the person added.

“He pretty much ruined the sport,” one fan told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “He made the Yankees look bad, he made himself look bad, he made his fans look bad, it’s bad for publicity, it’s bad for himself and he really let a lot of people down.  No. He actually shouldn’t be playing at all, for that matter.”

Rodriguez was the lone holdout Monday as 12 players — including All-Stars Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jhonny Peralta of Detroit and Everth Cabrera of San Diego — accepted bans.

Others include Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; San Diego pitcher Fautino De Los Santos; and free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto.

A suspension from Monday through 2014 would total 214 games, and an unsuccessful appeal could stretch serving the penalty into 2015.

In the era before players and owners agreed to a drug plan in late 2002, arbitrators often shortened drug suspensions — in the case of Yankees pitcher Steve Howe, his penalty was cut from a lifetime ban to 119 days.

MLB planned an announcement for Monday afternoon, according to WFAN/CBSSports.com baseball insider Jon Heyman.

Rodriguez is the most famous player linked to the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida, and the Yankees expect him to be charged with interfering with MLB’s investigation, resulting in a harsher penalty than the other 13 players facing discipline.

Barring an agreement, Rodriguez’s appeal would be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.

One fan on Park Avenue near the Baseball Commissioner’s office told WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane that this is like ‘The Real Housewives Of New Jersey,’ a drama that’s always on and never ending.

Adding to the drama: The 38-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, was due to rejoin the Yankees for their series opener at the Chicago White Sox, his first big league appearance since last October’s playoffs. He’s been rehabbing since hip surgery in January.

“He’s in there, and I’m going to play him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday after New York’s 6-3 loss at San Diego.

He added: “In my mind I have him penciled in there tomorrow.”

”He’s our teammate,” said Yankees captain Derek Jeter. “He’s here.  We look forward to seeing him.”

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson was excited A-Rod could play during an appeal.

“I want him back with us. This is arguably one of the best hitters of all time,” he said. “Having him in the lineup is obviously going to be very positive for us.”

New York is a season-high 9½ games out of first place in the AL East and 4½ out in the race for the second wild-card spot.

“We’re going to be happy to see him back in the lineup, especially the way we’ve been playing,” second baseman Robinson Cano said. “He can come up and help us win some games.”

Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, agreed July 22 to a 65-game ban through the rest of the 2013 season for his role with Biogenesis.

Braun was given a 50-game suspension for elevated testosterone that was overturned last year by arbitrator Shyam Das because of issues with the handling of the urine sample.

Since spring training, the union has said it will consider stiffer penalties starting in 2014.

“The home runs that are hit because a guy’s on performance-enhancing substances, those ruin somebody’s ERA, which ruins their arbitration case, which ruins their salary,” Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said. “So it’s a whole domino effect.”

Rodriguez’s return from hip surgery was slowed by a quadriceps injury. He completed his second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment on Saturday night, a two-day stay at Double-A Trenton. Rodriguez walked in all four plate appearances, a day after hitting a two-run homer.

Following Friday night’s game, Rodriguez all but said he thought MLB and the Yankees were conspiring to keep him from getting back to the big leagues.

“There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that’s not my teammates and it’s not the Yankee fans,” he said, adding: “When all this stuff is going on in the background and people are finding creative ways to cancel your contract and stuff like that, I think that’s concerning for me.”

MLB reportedly shut down negotiations because of the comments.

“It’s not surprising he’s chosen to drag everyone through the mud,” a league official told the New York Daily News. “In everything he said, he’s been all over the page, accusing everyone of everything and coming off as so disingenuous. How can you possibly make deals with somebody like this?”

He last played in October, going 3 for 25 (.120) with no RBIs in the playoffs. Rodriguez is owed $8,568,306 of his $28 million salary from Monday through the rest of the season and $86 million for the final four years of his contract with the Yankees.

Girardi didn’t think A-Rod’s arrival would create more turmoil than the Yankees already are used to.

“I don’t suspect it’ll be awkward. Most of these guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot,” he said. “I think it’ll be business as usual. I’m sure there will be more media there, obviously, tomorrow, but I think that’s probably more for Alex to deal with than the rest of the guys. I don’t think it’ll be a big deal.”

“Can’t wait to see my teammates,” A-Rod said. “I feel like I can help us win, I can  help us be a better team.”

One fan said he believes that if A-Rod can help his team, then he should suit up.

“Of course, he’s great, I love him, I’m sorry,” the fan said. “He’s one of the best they have.  I don’t care.”

There have been 43 suspensions under the major league drug agreement since testing with penalties for first offenses started in 2005. The longest penalty served has been a 100-game suspension by San Francisco pitcher Guillermo Mota for a positive test for Clenbuterol, his second drug offense.

In addition, Tampa Bay outfielder Manny Ramirez retired two years ago rather than face a 100-game suspension. When he decided to return for 2012 the penalty was cut to 50 games because he already had sat out almost an entire season.

Colorado catcher Eliezer Alfonzo was suspended for 100 games in September 2011, but the penalty was rescinded the following May because of handling issues similar to the ones involving Braun’s urine sample.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)