Alex Rodriguez/ Jeff Blake, USA TODAY Sports
by Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports
Commissioner Bud Selig is prepared to levy a lifetime suspension on New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, while suspending about eight others before the weekend, two people with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.
The people were unauthorized to speak publicly because no announcement is expected until Thursday or Friday.
"I hope he does it,'' former Commissioner Fay Vincent told USA TODAY Sports. "It's right for baseball. The harder he comes down, the better it is for baseball.''
Rodriguez, according to his attorney, David Cornwell, will appeal any suspension, regardless of the severity. The other players are expected to receive 50-game bans, and most are considering accepting the discipline without appealing, according to one of the people.
As many as 20 players were originally linked to Biogenesis, a Miami clinic that allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs, but some players could not be disciplined for lack of evidence.
Besides Rodriguez, All-Stars Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers and Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers are facing possible suspensions, along with shortstop Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres.
Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice president of labor relations, informed the Major League Players Association officials on Tuesday of their findings and suspensions. The players and their representatives will decide whether they will file an appeal or accept the penalties, which would all but end their regular season with barely 50 games remaining.
Rodriguez, who used performance-enhancing drugs from 2010-2012, according to Biogenesis documents originally released by the Miami New Times, has never been punished for doping. Players who violate the drug policy are subject to a 50-game suspension.
Milwaukee Brewers outfield Ryan Braun was suspended last week for 65 games for what MLB called violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Joint Drug Agreement.
In banning Rodriguez for life Selig could invoke Article XII (B) of the CBA, which states:
"Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball, including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law.''
MLB will contend that, in addition to lying about performance-enhancing drug use, Rodriguez lied to MLB officials while attempting to sabotage their investigation, according to one of the people.
When asked if MLB is planning to impose a lifetime ban on Rodriguez, union executive director Michael Weiner said in an email: "I can neither confirm nor deny.''
An appeal would be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz and would likely not occur until September. Should MLB suspend Rodriguez under the CBA, he would be ineligible to play until Horowitz's decision.
The most recent example of Article XII (B) being used came when Selig suspended Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker in 2000 for 28 days and fined him $20,000 for inflammatory comments made to Sports Illustrated. The sentence was reduced to 14 days by arbitrator Shyam Das.
"I think that given the Collective Bargaining Agreement," Vincent said, "he has room to use the best-interest clause in the CBA if there are criminal acts. And I think the courts are very protective of commissioners using the best-interest clause."
Rodriguez, 38, has been sidelined all season as he recovers from hip surgery in January. He is scheduled to play in a rehab game Friday in Trenton, N.J. If he stays healthy, he hopes to join his teammates perhaps Tuesday in Chicago.
He remains adamant that he is innocent of the drug charges, insisting that he has not used performance-enhancing drugs since 2003 when he was with the Texas Rangers.
"I have never failed a test, paid people, or done the things they're accusing me of," Rodriguez told USA TODAY Sports in a July interview. "Nobody is hiding anything. It's weird."
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