New York Daily News


Sources say slugger looking to get out before baseball gets him


Alex Rodriguez has 114 million reasons for telling the world that he has the green light to play baseball games again.

According to sources close to the ongoing drama surroundin­g the star-crossed Yankee third baseman, Rodriguez and his advisers are so concerned that Major League Baseball’s drug posse is quickly closing in on him that they have racheted up the timetable for him to return to game action. Once he’s back playing in rehab games, the sources say, he could then claim he is physically unable to perform because of the serious hip injury he is recovering from, “retire” from the game, and still collect the full amount of his salary — $114 million over the next five years.”

“It’s all about him getting his money and not losing it to suspension,” one source close to the situation told the Daily News. “He knows he’s never going to the Hall of

Fame. All that’s left for him is to make sure he gets his money — all of it.” One way to do that is for Rodriguez to return to game action, find he can no longer perform up to his standards, then retire before he’s hit with a suspension without pay. A player who retires because he is physically unable to perform, even if he’s later suspended, would still get the full amount of his contract.

Albert Belle suffered a similar hip injury that ended his career in 2001, and he was forced to go on a series of 60-day disabled lists in order to collect the remainder of his contract.

Now, a player who is deemed physically unable to perform is allowed by baseball to retire and still collect his money.

Sources told the Daily News they believe MLB will try to suspend Rodriguez, no matter his status. If he is given a lifetime ban, he would not be able to re-enter the game in any capacity.

“It’s not going to have any effect on what or when MLB does something,” said a baseball source. The Yankees, who are currently paying Rodriguez’s $28 million 2013 salary, could conceivabl­y then try to collect insurance on the remainder of the contract, as the Orioles did with Belle.

After the Daily News reported on Sunday that Rodriguez had been given medical clearance to begin playing in rehab games on July 1 as long as the Yankees felt he was ready to do so, Yankee GM Brian Cashman began disputing that claim, saying only that the Yankees and their team of doctors, trainers and ultimately, Cashman, can clear Rodriguez for game action.

Then on Tuesday night, after A-Rod confirmed what The News had already reported, tweeting that Dr. Bryan Kelly, who performed hip surgery on A-Rod in January “gave me the best news — the green light to play games again!” and posting a weekend photo of himself with Kelly, Cashman erupted, saying, “You know what? When the Yankees want to announce something, we will. Alex should just shut the f--- up. That’s it. I’m going to call Alex now.”

Rodriguez faces immense pressure from MLB’s investigat­ion into his alleged

involvemen­t with self-professed chemist Anthony Bosch and the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic, which is at the center of MLB’s investigat­ion into the performanc­e-enhancing drug ring Bosch is believed to have operated out of Miami.

A-Rod’s name has emerged in Biogenesis documents listing drug arrays and amounts paid, notations that Bosch is believed to have confirmed to MLB in a series of recent interviews. Bosch began cooperatin­g with baseball investigat­ors after MLB agreed to several conditions, including dropping him from a lawsuit it filed against him in the spring if his cooperatio­n proved fruitful.

Bosch isn’t baseball’s only ammunition, however. The league prevailed in two recent hearings in which witnesses fought deposition­s springing from the lawsuit — one by former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro (Lazer) Collazo, who they believe referred an MLB player to the clinic at the center of baseball’s latest doping scandal, and the other by A-Rod’s notorious cousin, Yuri Sucart.

In a hearing Wednesday, a Miami circuit court judge ruled that MLB can depose Sucart, who A-Rod named as his drug supplier when he admitted in 2009 to having used performanc­eenhancing drugs from 2001-2003. Sucart has been banned from MLB clubhouses and other private areas. MLB has also deposed Tirzon Nunez, the brother of Juan Carlos Nunez, who told the Daily News last summer that he was responsibl­e for creating a fictitious website during former Yankee Melky Cabrera’s attempt to circumvent a 50-game drug suspension. Tirzon and Juan Carlos Nunez were associates of Seth and Sam Levinson, the agents who represent several of the 20 or more players who MLB is investigat­ing in relation to Bosch.

The evidence baseball collects will determine the length of any suspension. Depending on whether MLB can show that Rodriguez acquired performanc­e-enhancing drugs from Bosch . . . or that he engaged in a repeated pattern of use . . . or that he lied to baseball investigat­ors who have interviewe­d him several times over the years about PEDs, he could face a 50- or 100-game suspension, or even a lifetime ban.

“He knows (MLB) has the goods on him,” said the source. “Who knows how long the suspension will be — 100 games, whatever — he’ll try to get out ahead of it.”

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