NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez’s legal team has gathered extensive additional evidence since he filed a lawsuit accusing Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig of trying to polish their images and destroy the third baseman’s career and reputation, his lawyer said Thursday.
At a Manhattan federal court hearing, attorney Jordan Siev said his law office has gotten more evidence nearly every day to support its lawsuit accusing MLB and Selig of going on a “witch hunt” to ruin Rodriguez’s reputation and career. He said the defendants went “way over the line.”
He said evidence will prove that MLB and Selig engaged in behavior that subjects them to civil, “if not criminal,” liability. The New York Yankees star did not attend the hearing.
MLB attorney Joseph Baumgarten responded by calling the lawsuit “inappropriate.” He said the defendants will seek its dismissal.
“It doesn’t belong in federal court,” he said. Both sides were scheduled to file papers in the case on Friday. A hearing was scheduled for Jan. 23.
Siev is seeking to move the case back to state court, where it was originally filed.
At one point, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield noted: “It’s ironic. Neither side wants to be here, but you’re both here.”
Baumgarten made little mention of Rodriguez’s allegations, but Siev used the public forum to lash out at the league and Selig.
He said baseball’s investigation had a “sole purpose of destroying Rodriguez’s career and reputation” and was designed “to get Mr. Rodriguez at all costs in an effort to salvage Mr. Selig’s reputation as he heads toward retirement.”
Siev said Selig “saw this as an opportunity to bring down one of the biggest players in the game.”
The lawyer recounted some highlights of the lawsuit, including allegations that the league intimidated and offered cash to witnesses, purchased documents and allowed one of its investigators to engage in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a witness.
He said the league made sure to leak information about the investigation to the press along the way.
Outside court, lawyers declined to comment.
A-Rod was given a 211-game suspension by the league on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball’s drug agreement. He also was penalized under the labor contract for “a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.”
The three-time AL MVP was allowed to keep playing until the arbitrator decides a grievance filed by the players’ association to overturn the penalty.
“We were not the source for this story,” MLB said in a statement. “We honor our joint drug program and never publicly disclose player test results until it’s publicly announced.”
A-Rod said it’s one example of the MLB’s investigations division “gross misconduct.” His legal team accused the MLB of leaking the allegation of a positive test, using a statement and making a filing to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
Lanny Davis, a former Clinton administration official working for Rodriguez’s legal team, denied the player tested positive, the Times said. James McCarroll, a lawyer for A-Rod, did not address whether he had a positive test, only that he was not banned.
“Alex Rodriguez was never suspended for use of stimulants or any violation of the MLB drug program,” McCarroll said in a statement. “The fact that MLB has resorted to leaking federally protected medical information about a player speaks volumes of the weakness of their case against Alex — and their desperation to secure a win in the arbitration, at all costs.”
In a statement Monday night, Davis called for a government probe into MLB’s methods. MLB has admitted paying for documents and Rodriguez’s lawyers have claimed baseball’s representatives have intimidated witnesses.
A-Rod released a statement after the World Series ended, saying “To be sure, this fight is necessary to protect me, but it also serves the interests of the next 18-year-old coming into the league to be sure he doesn’t step into the house of horrors that I am being forced to walk through.”
MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred fired back, saying “Given the disappointing acts that Mr. Rodriguez has repeatedly made throughout his career, his expressed concern for young people rings very hollow.”
If the lawsuit leads to a trial, it won’t begin until sometime next year at the earliest. As for his appeal against the MLB, those hearings resume later this month.
MLB and the union agreed in 2005 to ban many stimulants. The paper said it wasn’t clear whether a failed stimulant test was introduced by MLB as evidence in the grievance.
Rodriguez said when he arrived at spring training in 2008 that “last year, I got tested 9 to 10 times. — We have a very, very strict policy, and I think the game is making tremendous strides.”
That would be an unusually high number of random checks but would be in line with a player subjected to additional tests resulting from an amphetamine violation. Later in the day, A-Rod said his comments were an “exaggeration to make a point.”
Sports Illustrated reported in 2009 that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids during MLB’s anonymous survey in 2003, and A-Rod said two days later he used banned substances while playing with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03.
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