November 20, 2013

BASEBALL: Rodriguez walks of own grievance hearing

Star angry Selig won’t be made to testify

NEW YORK (AP) – Alex Rodriguez walked out of his grievance hearing Wednesday after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to testify.

Horowitz was in the midst of the 11th day of hearings on the grievance filed by the players’ association to overturn the 211-game suspension given to Rodriguez by Major League Baseball last summer for alleged violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract.

A person familiar with the session said that after Horowitz made his ruling, the New York Yankees third baseman slammed a table, uttered a profanity at MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred and left. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because what takes place at the hearing is supposed to be confidential.

“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process.

“This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the players’ association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”

Rodriguez’s legal team remains involved in the proceeding. It has been unclear whether Rodriguez will testify.

Horowitz technically is chairman of a three-man arbitration panel that also includes Manfred and Dave Prouty, the general counsel of the players’ union.

“For more than 40 years, Major League Baseball and the players’ association have had a contractual grievance process to address disputes between the two parties. This negotiated process has served players and clubs well,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement. “Despite Mr. Rodriguez being upset with one of the arbitration panel’s rulings today, Major League Baseball remains committed to this process and to a fair resolution of the pending dispute.”

A day earlier, Yankees President Randy Levine testified and denied conspiring with MLB on A-Rod’s suspension.

Levine was asked a series of questions by Rodriguez lawyer Joseph Tacopina, according to another person with knowledge of the proceeding, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the hearing’s confidentiality provision.

The person said Levine testified for 10-15 minutes and denied having any personal gain from Rodriguez’s suspension or the Yankees falling under the luxury tax threshold; and of having an agreement to receive a commission of any money the team saved because of the ban.

Levine also denied discussing Rodriguez’s discipline with Major League Baseball or Selig and telling Rodriguez surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly or anyone else that he wanted the player off the field, the person said.

The person said Levine testified he may have jokingly used the phrase “is he off the juice?” when talking with Rodriguez about other players who weren’t performing. Levine testified he had no exact recollection.

The hearing resumed Monday before Horowitz, who also heard the case from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and Oct. 15-18.

Howard Gans, a lawyer for MLB, said in papers filed in federal court that Horowitz will hear the case daily through Nov. 26 rather than the original plan to recess after Friday and resume Dec. 16.

MLB said U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan issued an order Tuesday compelling Michael Sitrick, head of the public relations firm Sitrick & Co., to comply with a Sept. 19 subpoena issued by Horowitz to appear at the arbitration and to provide documents. Sitrick & Co. worked on Rodriguez’s behalf earlier this year.

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