Yankees await details on A-Rod speculation
NEW YORK -- As it has all season, Alex Rodriguez's locker in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse sat in mint condition on Tuesday, filled only by a set of pristine workout clothes and some spare books and magazines left behind by parties unknown.
The Yankees believe that Rodriguez will be healthy enough to rejoin their lineup sometime after the All-Star break, but there is now a question of whether Major League Baseball will permit Rodriguez to take the field at all.
ESPN's "Outside the Lines" reported on Tuesday night that Rodriguez is one of the bold-faced names that Major League Baseball may seek to suspend for connections to the Miami-area anti-aging Biogenesis clinic founded by Anthony Bosch. It has been suggested that Rodriguez could face as much as a 100-game ban for his alleged involvement. The Yankees would not pay Rodriguez's salary during any potential suspension, meaning a 100-game ban could potentially cost Rodriguez more than $15 million in lost wages.
"Everything right now is speculation until MLB does something," said Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells, who had ties to the MLB Players Association as a player representative during his days with the Blue Jays. "We'll see what happens, what comes out and what MLB does. We can all sit here and wonder, guess who's going to be on there and what the ramifications are going to be, but until something happens, there's really nothing we can say."
ESPN reported that Bosch has agreed to cooperate with MLB's investigation. The news outlet suggested, citing a source familiar with the Commissioner's Office, that MLB could seek a 100-game punishment -- the penalty for a second offense pertaining to performance-enhancing substances -- for players like Rodriguez and the Brewers' Ryan Braun.
There are also other possible links to the Yankees. It remains unclear whether second baseman Robinson Cano has any connection with Bosch, and catcher Francisco Cervelli's name appeared on Biogenesis documents published in January by The Miami New Times.
Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Cano's foundation, was listed in Biogenesis documents, and MLB officials have investigated whether she might have been a conduit for Cano. Cervelli, Cano and Rodriguez have repeatedly denied receiving goods, treatment or services from the clinic.
MLB's investigation into Biogenesis has also involved big leaguers Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Gio Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal, among others.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the organization's stance has been that MLB will handle all aspects of the investigation and declined to comment on ESPN's report, but he expressed disappointment that performance-enhancing drugs have again become a topic of discussion in the game.
"I think we all had hoped that we kind of got through it, but obviously, we're not through it yet," Girardi said.
Wells said that the MLBPA has made strides to eradicate discussions like this one from the sport.
"The tough part is when you talk about science, science is always ahead of testing," Wells said. "There's always someone out there trying to beat the system from a medical standpoint. There are some smart people out there, but eventually, things like this happen and we have to talk about it again.
"We've ramped up testing. We'll continue to do as much as we can to never have this be a distraction again."
Rodriguez was first connected to Biogenesis by the January Miami New Times report in which his full name or nicknames reportedly appeared on 16 occasions in documents obtained from one of Bosch's former employees.
Through a spokesperson, Rodriguez has stated that the documents are "not legitimate" and said that he has never been treated or advised by Bosch. In April, a spokesperson also flatly denied that Rodriguez had purchased evidence relating to the clinic.
Girardi said that he has contacted Rodriguez about once a week this season, but only to touch upon baseball-related activities.
"Our plan all along was that he'd be back sometime after the All-Star break," Girardi said. "That's what he's been doing -- he's been rehabbing down in Tampa. He's starting to move around a little bit defensively. Balls are not just hit at him.
"We're moving him a little bit and his BP is better. Our plan has always been after the All-Star break. It's not an exact timetable because he hasn't played in a rehab game, but that's been our stance."
Wells said that he does not believe any discipline handed down to Rodriguez or others would affect the Yankees' clubhouse.
"I don't think it will be a distraction," Wells said. "From what I've gathered, guys are pretty good at dealing with distractions in this clubhouse. We'll continue moving on and marching forward and just hope for the best."