The exact timing of a decision is uncertain. Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement states the arbitrator shall make “all reasonable efforts” to close the record in time to permit a decision within 25 days of the start of the hearing. But in this case, the hearing began Sept. 30, making that timetable impossible to meet.
After the arbitrator renders his decision, the written opinion is to be issued within 30 days. It is unclear if Horowitz will issue his written opinion simultaneously with his decision.
The timing of the case could complicate planning for the Yankees, who don’t know if they will have to pay Rodriguez his $25 million salary and are unsure whether they will need a different starting third baseman.
Rodriguez was suspended by MLB on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball’s drug policy and labor agreement stemming from the league’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida. The players’ association filed a grievance, and because Rodriguez was a first-time offender of the drug agreement, the discipline automatically was stayed pending a resolution of the grievance.
Horowitz heard the case in a trio of four-day sessions, with management presenting its case from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and Oct. 15-18. Rodriguez’s side then took its turn during the first four days of this week.
While Horowitz had set aside six additional days for testimony through Wednesday, that time was not needed.
Rodriguez left in the middle of the 11th session Wednesday, furious the arbitrator refused to order Selig to testify. He then made his way to the studios of WFAN radio to state his case, slamming baseball and Selig, and denying any PED use since 2003.
“And the fact that the man from Milwaukee that put the suspension on me with not one bit of evidence — something I didn’t do — and he doesn’t have the courage to come look me in the eye and tell me this is why I did 211? I shouldn’t serve one inning,” Rodriguez told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Wednesday.
His lawyers returned without him Thursday to complete their case, and MLB started and finished its rebuttal. At the end of the hearing, the sides learned union head Michael Weiner had died from the brain tumor he was diagnosed with 15 months ago.
Outside MLB’s offices, representatives of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, including state Sen. Ruben Diaz, held a prayer vigil to express opposition to Rodriguez’s discipline.
Rodriguez lawyer James McCarroll issued a statement Thursday pointing out that this case is the first grievance under the drug agreement involving discipline that didn’t stem from a positive test and involved “the commissioner’s discretion and decision-making.” While he said the commissioner in the past “was harshly criticized in the arbitrator’s decision for not voluntarily appearing at a grievance,” that statement appears to refer to arbitrator George Nicolau’s 1987 decision cutting Peter Ueberroth’s drug suspension of pitcher LaMarr Hoyt from one season to 60 days.
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