Alex Rodriguez's punishment from Major League Baseball might be over a labor violation, not a drug violation, multiple media outlets reported Monday night.
That technicality could prevent Rodriguez from playing for the New York Yankees while appealing the punishment. According to the New York Daily News, if Rodriguez were suspended under Article XI, Section A1b of the collective bargaining agreement, the MLB commissioner would hear an appeal, and Bud Selig is unlikely to issue a ruling that would put A-Rod back on the field.
The Daily News reported that MLB is prepared to ban Rodriguez for attempts to intimidate witnesses and to purchase documents that would have incriminated him in the Biogenesis probe. The former South Florida clinic reportedly provided banned performance-enhancing drugs to numerous athletes, including Rodriguez and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who last week accepted a season-ending, 65-game suspension.
Multiple media outlets reported Monday that the punishment for Rodriguez and others implicated in the Biogenesis affair are close to being announced.
Player suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement are free to play while their appeals are being heard. Also, because Rodriguez never previously faced punishment for a violation of the sport's drug policy, he might only be looking at a 50-game suspension were he to be hit with a PED charge.
The labor-violation suspension could be longer, though it's possible MLB is only threatening to go that route to convince Rodriguez to forgo any appeals and accept a suspension.
Rodriguez's lawyer, David Cornwell, said in an interview Monday that A-Rod would fight any suspension he is handed.
"We are focused on an appeal," Cornwell told Stephen A. Smith while appearing on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7, according to ESPN.com.
Rodriguez, 38, has yet to play for the New York Yankees this season after undergoing offseason hip surgery. His rehab was delayed due to a quadriceps injury suffered during a minor league game.
While Rodriguez subsequently maintained he was ready for big-league action, the Yankees said that he needed more time off. The sides ultimately agreed to have Rodriguez begin a rehab assignment Thursday, though the affiliate he will play for has yet to be announced.
If the Yankees clear him for action, and MLB doesn't step in, Rodriguez could be back in the major leagues for an Aug. 6 road game against the Chicago White Sox, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
Rodriguez is currently rehabbing at the Yankees' facility in Tampa, Fla.
As part of the 10-year, $275 million deal he signed in December 2007, Rodriguez is making $28 million this year. He's owed $25 million in 2014, $21 million in 2015, $20 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017.
All of the money is guaranteed even if Rodriguez doesn't play due to injury. However, Rodriguez wouldn't get paid during a suspension.
The Daily News reported that MLB has documentation showing Rodriguez used PEDs in each of the past three years.
Rodriguez previously confessed to using PEDs as a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, but he has said he never violated the drug policy while playing for the Yankees.