Alex Rodriguez returned to the New York Yankees lineup on Monday night for the first time this season. He had missed the first 110 games of the season recovering from hip surgery, which was followed by several stints in the minors, a nasty back-and-forth in the media with the Yankees, and perhaps the ugliest performance-enhancing drug scandal to rock the sport.
It's no secret that the 14-time All-Star and former MVP is under fire for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis case that has already seen 12 players served with 50-plus game suspensions. A-Rod has been subjected to intense criticism by the mainstream press, and the slugger is expected to continue to make headlines in the coming weeks.
Before he returned to the Yankees lineup this week, Major League Baseball handed Rodriguez a 211-game suspension that will run through the 2014 season and could cost him upwards of $33 million in salary. It’s the longest suspension given to a player since relief pitcher Steve Howe in 1992. Howe, who had been suspended for drug-policy violations, later won his appeal and was reinstated.
Insistent of his innocence since evidence surfaced in January, Rodriguez is the only player of the 13 accused by MLB to apply for an appeal of the league’s decision.
All the legal terms and ethical questions aside, the Yankees have missed Rodriguez’s bat at third base, and currently sit at 10.5 games back of the AL East and six games behind a wild card spot. Rodriguez can continue to play during the appeals process, but his fate is expected to be decided before the regular season ends.
The timetable for the appeals process started when Rodriguez decided to challenge the MLB’s suspension. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Joint Drug Agreement requires a panel to meet no later than 10 days after the appeal has been filed.
From there, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will have 25 days to reach a verdict.
Though they haven’t publicly revealed their proof, MLB reportedly has mountains of evidence, including text messages, which they claim proves Rodriguez took steroids and other performance enhancing drugs from 2010 to 2012. The league also reportedly has evidence that Rodriguez was trying to funnel players to Biogenesis, the south Florida anti-aging clinic run by Anthony Bosch.
Earlier this week it was revealed that Bosch is facing an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami into allegations that he was also selling illegally controlled substances to high school students.
While Rodriguez has been careful with his words, Heyman reported that the Rodriguez doesn’t believe he should be suspended longer than the other 12 players since he hasn’t failed a drug test recently or before.
It’s important to remember the last time MLB and a player went through the appeals process. Last year, Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, who is currently serving the 65-game suspension he was served last month, won his arbitration case against MLB despite failing a drug test.