July 11, 2013

Major League Notebook: Baseball mulls legal questions for suspensions

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — We may never know exactly what Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are being accused of in Major League Baseball's Biogenesis investigation -- if they beat the rap.

That's because details likely will be caught in a tangle of legal gymnastics involving MLB, the players' union and probably an arbitrator, who could rule no discipline is warranted.

Lengthy proceedings make it nearly a certainty most, if not all, suspensions would be served in 2014.

Among the early legal issues: Does the commissioner's office have the right to announce any suspensions before grievances are decided by an arbitrator? Can a player not previously disciplined under the drug agreement be suspended for more than 50 games because of multiple violations?

Three people familiar with the investigation said if management and the union can't agree on the process, the arbitrator, Fredric Horowitz, likely would be asked to decide. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.

MLB has spent most of the year investigating about 20 players for their links to Biogenesis of America, including A-Rod and Braun, both former MVPs. Miami New Times reported in January that the closed Florida anti-aging clinic had distributed banned performance-enhancing drugs to major leaguers.

Lawyers for the commissioner's office have interviewed players and many, including Braun, refused to answer questions about dealings with Biogenesis, the three people said. Braun was interviewed in late June and Rodriguez is scheduled to be interviewed Friday.

Braun and Rodriguez have said they didn't do anything that merits discipline.

MLB hopes to complete the interviews in mid-July but isn't sure whether it will meet that schedule. Management then will have to decide what discipline it intends to impose.

Baseball's joint drug agreement calls for a 50-game suspension for a first offense, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third. Among the players linked to Biogenesis -- Toronto's Melky Cabrera, Oakland's Bartolo Colon and San Diego's Yasmani Grandal -- have served 50-game penalties following positive testosterone tests.

The drug agreement specifies that if a suspension for a first PED offense is challenged by the union, the violation is not made public unless the penalty is sustained in arbitration. But discipline for second and third offenses are announced and served while the grievance is litigated.

There also is a provision stating "the commissioner's office may publicly announce the discipline of a player if the allegations relating to a player's violation of the program previously had been made public through a source other than the commissioner's office or a club" or their employees. The sides or the arbitrator will have to decide whether the media accounts are covered by that clause.

CARDINALS: Pitcher Chris Carpenter is set to make his first minor league rehabilitation start Monday for Double-A Springfield.

PHILLIES: First baseman Ryan Howard had surgery to repair a tear in his left knee. Howard will miss between 6 to 8 weeks. He had an MRI that revealed the injury.

 

METS: Right-hander Matt Harvey will skip his scheduled start Saturday against Pittsburgh with a minor blister, making it even more likely he could start the All-Star game.

 

GIANTS: Pitcher Chad Gaudin, accused of touching a woman's breast at a Las Vegas hospital earlier this year, now faces a lewdness charge. According to police reports, Gaudin appeared drunk when he approached a 23-year-old woman on a gurney, told her she was gorgeous and touched her face and breast. A paramedic told Gaudin to leave the woman alone but he refused, and security staff held him down until police arrived, the report said.

Gaudin's lawyer, Dominic Gentile, said Gaudin was suffering acute renal failure, and experiencing symptoms including confusion and disorientation.

 

RANGERS: Right-hander Yu Darvish was placed on the 15-day disabled list and will miss the All-Star Game next week.

DODGERS: Major League Baseball upheld a two-game suspension of second baseman Skip Schumaker for his involvement in a fight with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Schumaker served the first game of his suspension Wednesday night against the Diamondbacks.

 

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