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A-Rod Said To Be Facing Long Suspension From Baseball


Major League Baseball appears set to hand down suspensions to several players implicated in performance enhancing drug use. New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez is the biggest name by far on that list and he also faces the longest suspension. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now for an update. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: So what length of penalty does Alex Rodriguez face?

PESCA: Well, from what we're hearing, and we're being told that this announcement will be made around noon or 1:00 Eastern Time today, A-Rod could be suspended for the rest of this season and all of 2014. It adds up to 214 games.

MONTAGNE: That's a lot. What about the other players in that case?

PESCA: Yeah. Well, there - all the other players are to be suspended or offered suspensions starting today, and the timing is they're all going to get 50-game suspensions, we are told. And that means that if they accept their suspensions, they'll be able to return for the play-offs. If they fight their suspensions, it might hurt their chances of being in the play-offs.

Now, for some of these players, like Evereth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres, I don't think it matters because the Padres aren't going to the play-offs. But for Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, for Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers, that could be an important consideration. So the timing of this was pretty precise to make it so that those guys would say, OK, we'll take our suspensions, we'll see you in the play-offs.

And that's what baseball wants. Baseball really wanted all the players to take their suspensions so that they could make a big statement that we're doing everything we can to stamp out steroids, that the players are no longer fighting it, that the clean players really want this to happen, and that the dirty players realized they did something wrong. And that is why A-Rod, with his recalcitrance, is really throwing a spanner in the works. That's what he does.

MONTAGNE: Well, is that also why he is facing what amounts to four, what is it, four times the length of the suspension? Two hundred games versus 50 for other players?

PESCA: That's right. Well, it's among the theories. So what commissioner Bud Selig is pointing to, and he is said to be very mad that Alex Rodriguez didn't want to negotiate with him, is the fact that not only did Alex Rodriguez take performance enhancing drugs, was all over the ledger of this South Florida wellness - I'll put that in air quotes - wellness clinic called Biogenesis, but that during the investigation he was less than helpful.

In fact, the commissioner's office is even saying that he tried to buy the records from Biogenesis. He tried to get in the way of their investigation. Now, we should say Major League Baseball did buy the records of Biogenesis and did offer to pay the whistleblower from Biogenesis, but it's not really what's good for the goose is good for the gander because Major League Baseball is trying to root out steroids and Alex Rodriguez is trying to cover it up.

There's also the fact that Alex Rodriguez admitted to doing steroids already. This wasn't an official ding on his record, so it still would count as a 50-game suspension.

MONTAGNE: Now, the Yankees are in Chicago for a game against the White Sox. Could A-Rod actually play today?

PESCA: Yeah. And here's the situation. If commissioner Bud Selig wanted to suspend him for a long, long time, he could invoke the best interest of baseball clause. Which is used for players like Pete Rose, who was suspended for gambling under that clause. But if he suspends him under the steroid clause, then Alex Rodriguez has the opportunity to appeal. That's his right as a member of the union.

And if he does appeal, and there is every indication that A-Rod will appeal, then on the day he was announced as part of the biggest steroid bust in Major League history will also be the day he's making his debut this season. But the Yankees need him in the lineup. I don't think management really wanted him to play. They'd rather not pay this, you know, 25, $28 million salary guy this year. But that's the situation.

So yeah, it's likely that he'll be playing under the cloud of the guy who will get the longest suspension for steroids ever.

MONTAGNE: NPR's sports correspondent Mike Pesca. Thank you very much. And this is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.
Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent for NPR based in New York City.