Next month, as New York Yankees pitchers and catchers report for spring training, lawyers for suspended third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be in federal court defending their lawsuit against Major League Baseball, a judge ruled.
U.S. District Court Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan yesterday granted MLB’s request for a hearing in its bid to dismiss Rodriguez’s lawsuit over his suspension. He scheduled court for Feb. 14, the same day the Yankees will be opening their training camp in Tampa, Florida.
Rodriguez sued MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association this month, challenging an arbitrator’s finding that he used three performance-enhancing drugs over three years. His suspension is the longest for doping in baseball history. The 162-game ban, which includes playoffs, will keep the three-time American League Most Valuable Player off the field until the 2015 season, during which he will turn 40.
Rodriguez, 38, accused MLB of violating the league’s collective-bargaining agreement by holding a hearing before a biased arbitrator.
MLB lawyer Howard Ganz told Ramos that Rodriguez’s claims should fail.
“Rodriguez is demanding that this court set aside an impartial arbitrator’s conclusion that there was just cause for the discipline imposed without ever having denied engaging in the misconduct with which he was charged,” Ganz said in a letter filed in court. “The complaint reflects nothing more than Rodriguez’s disagreement with the arbitrator’s evaluation of the evidence.”
Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star, was initially suspended in August after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said he used the drugs and tried to obstruct an investigation of Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Florida. Rodriguez received banned substances from Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis, according to MLB.
If Rodriguez fails to overturn the arbitrator’s ruling, he will lose his entire $25 million salary for 2014, according to payroll figures compiled by baseball-reference.com.
Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Rodriguez, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on the scheduling.
The case is Rodriguez v. Major League Baseball, 14-00244, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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