NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Alex Rodriguez’s grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game suspension ended Thursday when both sides rested their cases, a day after the New York Yankees third baseman angrily walked out and decided not to testify in his own defense.
The sides set a schedule to file briefs and reply briefs next month, which will close the record and submit the matter to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
His decision on whether to uphold or alter the discipline for the three-time AL MVP likely will be made in January, a person familiar with the proceedings told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Rodriguez’s lawyers already are vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court, where judges usually are reticent to overturn an arbitration decision unless there is a finding the arbitrator was biased, exceeded his authority or failed to comply with the rules agreed to by the parties.
“We are absolutely shutting this down,” Joseph Tacopina, one of A-Rod’s attorneys, said outside MLB’s offices in Midtown before Thursday’s hearing. “We will be able to depose Commissioner (Bud) Selig one way or the other.”
The New York Yankees star walked out in the middle of a session Wednesday, furious that Horowitz refused to order Selig to testify.
The move, followed by angry statements accusing Selig of bias and the entire arbitration process of flaws, appeared to be a prelude to a lawsuit challenging whatever ruling Horowitz makes on A-Rod’s 211-game suspension.
A-Rod spokesman Ron Berkowitz said that Rodriguez’s lawyers will go public with new information in the case on Friday, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
After walking out of his grievance hearing Wednesday, the slugger later showed up at the WFAN studios to talk to host Mike Francesa.
During that conversation, he dropped a gigantic bombshell on a saga that’s been filled with one page-turning headline after another.
Rodriguez vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the case, including saying that he hasn’t used performance-enhancing drugs at all since 2003.
He denied having leaked documents about Ryan Braun to Yahoo! Sports, calling that accusation by Major League Baseball “laughable” and “disgusting.”
He also denied any obstruction of justice during the course of the case, one of the several reasons given by MLB to give Rodriguez the biggest drug-related suspension of all-time.
“I can’t make any decision now, I’m way too hot,” Rodriguez told Francesa when asked to state for the record whether he’s guilty of the latest allegations. “I did nothing, Mike. With the (Anthony) Bosch nonsense, nothing.”
Horowitz was in the 11th day of hearings on the grievance filed by the players’ association to overturn the penalty, which was given to the three-time AL MVP by MLB in August for alleged violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract.
After Horowitz made his ruling, A-Rod uttered a profanity at MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred and left.
“I lost my mind. I banged a table and kicked a briefcase and slammed out of the room,” Rodriguez told Francesa. “I probably overreacted, but it came from the heart.”
Rodriguez has not testified in the grievance and said he had been warned that repeating his denials of wrongdoing on the stand could result in attempts at additional discipline by MLB.
MLB argued that it could decide what witnesses it wanted to present to justify the discipline, since the penalty must meet a “just cause” standard. The league said Manfred spoke to reasoning behind the discipline during his six hours of testimony.
“In the entire history of the Joint Drug Agreement, the commissioner has not testified in a single case,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter. MLB selected Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the players’ Association have no right to dictate how baseball’s case is to proceed any more than baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today’s antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez’s continuing refusal to testify under oath.”
Rodriguez and the union asked Horowitz to compel Selig to testify.
“This is the FIRST hearing under the drug agreement without a positive test,” Jim McCarroll, one of A-Rod’s attorneys, said in a statement. “The FIRST where the commissioner’s discretion and decision-making comes into play, without any science behind it.
“We also understand that under the prior collective-bargaining agreement, the commissioner testified in five of the last seven hearings, and he was harshly criticized in the arbitrator’s decision for not voluntarily appearing in at least one of the two where he did not testify. MLB continues to freely lie to the fans about Alex on an ongoing basis. Today’s statement is just the most recent example.”
Meanwhile, there was a prayer vigil outside MLB headquarters on Thursday in hopes of putting an end to Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension.
A-Rod’s supporters from the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization held the vigil for the Yankees’ third baseman in an effort to protest the suspension, which they deem to be unfair.
As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, while A-Rod’s attorneys were inside, Bronx State Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz stood in front of waving Dominican flags near a sign reading “Bud Selig is a child killer.”
Diaz said he thinks the slugger’s 211-game suspension seems to be motivated by other factors.
“I think that’s racist,” Diaz said.
The Bronx lawmaker led dozens of Latino preachers in prayer for A-Rod.
“I believe that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has been much kinder and gentler in their punishments for others who have done worse things,” Diaz said in a statement.
Horowitz, chosen by management and the union as their independent arbitrator last year, has the discretion to eliminate A-Rod’s suspension or alter it.
The statements by Rodriguez and McCarroll made it appear the 14-time All-Star intends to sue MLB and the union unless the penalty is eliminated.
Rodriguez already has filed one suit against MLB and Selig, accusing them of a “witch hunt,” and another against the Yankees team physician and his hospital, alleging malpractice in the diagnosis and treatment of a hip injury.
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