New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez's status for the 2014 MLB season remains blurry, but it became crystal clear on Wednesday that A-Rod and his representatives are none too happy about the manner in which his grievance has been handled.
According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, Rodriguez walked out of Wednesday's hearing due to the fact that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz decided that he would not order MLB commissioner Bud Selig to testify.
Rodriguez was suspended by the league for 211 games this past season due to his alleged involvement with Biogenesis of America, a now-defunct Miami-based clinic that's been accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs, but he was able to finish the 2013 campaign because he appealed.
Wednesday marked the 12th day of hearings for the grievance filed by the MLB Players' Association on Rodriguez's behalf, and things got heated, per Matthews' report:
Rodriguez said in a statement: "I am disgusted with this abusive process." He adds that "the absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce."
In addition, Rodriguez lashed out at MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, according to Matthews.
Amended: A-Rod told Manfred he's "full of (expletive)''. You figure it out— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
Matthews later clarified what was thought to be said:
From @jcrasnick A-Rod didn't say Manfred was "full of s***. He said, "This is f*****g b******t!'' Much better, don't you think?— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
If Rodriguez follows through on his threat to desist participating in the hearings, it will be interesting to see how this situation is handled.
Walking away can't help Rodriguez's case, but perhaps there is still time to reach a resolution.
Major League Baseball later released a statement on Rodriguez (via Matthews):
MLB statement on A-Rod: “For more than 40 years, Major League Baseball and the Players Association have had a contractual grievance process— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
MLB statement, Part 2: "to address disputes between the two parties. This negotiated process has served players and clubs well. (MORE)— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
MLB, Part 3: Despite Mr.Rodriguez being upset with one of the arbitration panel’s rulings today, MLB remains committed to this process . .— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
End MLB statement: and to a fair resolution of the pending dispute.”— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
Matthews also provides lawyer Joe Tacopina's thoughts:
Taco: This was a frustrating day. Today was not supposed to go like this— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
Taco: How can Bud Selig not have the courage to face Alex look him in the eye and explain why he is suspended for 211 games?— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
A-Rod lawyer: If Selig does not testify, Alex is not going back— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger has more from Tacopina:
Tacopina suggests Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension was much smaller than A-Rod's because of Selig's connections with the Brewers.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) November 20, 2013
Rodriguez also went on to Mike Francesa's radio show to comment on the day's events (via McCullough and Matthews):
A-Rod says he never did PEDs or obstructed justice. Says he is innocent. "I feel like I should be there on Opening Day."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) November 20, 2013
Alex admits he is "angry'' at the Yankees— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
ARod: I did nothing. with the Bosch nonsense, nothing— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) November 20, 2013
Brendan Kuty of NJ.com provides a statement from body language expert Susan Constantine, who watched Rodriguez's interview on YES Network:
"The real important part in all this is that, with a high level of certainty, he was lying," said Constantine, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Body Language" and a cable news contributor. "He is covering up at least some of the things that he's being accused of."
Rodriguez's movements and evasive responses to some questions gave away what he was really thinking, the body language expert said.
The Yankees slugger continued to single out Selig for some of his most pointed comments about the situation (via McCullough and Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News):
A-Rod to Selig: "I know you don't like New York. But you've got to come face me. This is my whole life. This is my legacy."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) November 20, 2013
A-Rod on Selig: "He hates my guts."— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 20, 2013
A-Rod: "100 percent this is personal."— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) November 20, 2013
As for why Selig isn't testifying against Rodriguez, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was able to provide insight into the decision:
Why Selig didn’t testify against A-Rod, per source: It is employer’s burden to justify penalty. MLB chose to justify it by using Manfred.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 20, 2013
Manfred, not Selig, has testified for MLB in every drug-related arbitration since collectively-bargained program was enacted.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 20, 2013
On Thursday, Rodriguez's hearing resumed without the Yankees star (per Adam Blum of the Associated Press via Yahoo! Sports):
Alex Rodriguez's lawyers were back at his arbitration hearing without him Thursday, a day after he added a different kind of walk-off to go along with the 11 game-ending hits in his big league career.
While the attorneys were at Major League Baseball's office, it wasn't clear yet if it was to wrap up the hearing or to proceed with more testimony.
The New York Yankees star walked out in the middle of a session Wednesday, furious that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to testify. The move, followed by angry statements accusing Selig of bias and the entire arbitration process of flaws, appeared to be a prelude to a lawsuit challenging whatever ruling Horowitz makes on A-Rod's 211-game suspension.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez made a difference for the Yankees down the stretch as he clubbed seven home runs and drove in 19 runs in 44 games.
His status figures to have a major impact on what the Yanks do in free agency this offseason, so it's likely that general manager Brian Cashman is hoping for some clarity one way or the other in the very near future.
A-Rod and his representatives have fought Major League Baseball tooth and nail ever since the suspension was handed down, but now that A-Rod's resolve is seemingly shaken, it's possible that Rodriguez's time as an MLB player is running out.
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