(NEW YORK) — Alex Rodriguez announced his plans to fly out to Chicago to play for the New York Yankees Monday night, despite swirling rumors that the third baseman will likely be suspended from Major League Baseball before the game’s opening pitch is thrown.
“I’m excited to play Monday,” Rodriguez said after he walked all four times at bat while playing for the minor league team Trenton Thunder on Saturday night. “I can’t wait to see my teammates. I feel like I can help them win.”
Rodriguez, who has yet to play in the majors this year as he comes back from hip surgery, made plans to work out Sunday morning before “flying to Chicago” to don his pinstripes and take the field against the Chicago White Sox in Illinois.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told ESPN on Sunday that he has the 14-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and three-time American League MVP penciled in to the team’s lineup for Monday’s game.
Despite the hopes of the third baseman and his manager, MLB is expected to issue a suspension on Monday that will likely extend through the end of the 2014 season, sources told ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
Rodriguez had been negotiating with MLB about the terms of his punishment after the owner of Biogenesis Labs listed him as one of the stars who received drugs from the clinic. He is one of 12 players expected to be handed suspensions on Monday, Outside the Lines reported on Saturday.
But the negotiations broke down, and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is reportedly no longer willing to talk, ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Andrew Marchand reported.
“I’ve been on the field the last 5½ hours. I haven’t seen or heard anything,” Rodriguez said Saturday night. “My focus has been on baseball. As far as any of that stuff, I’ll let those guys take care of what they need to take care of.”
MLB has already handed down one suspension as a result of the Biogenesis case: the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun, 29, a former rookie of the year and 2011 MVP, was suspended on July 22 for the rest of the season — 65 games — for using the banned substances he’d denied using for nearly two years. He stands to lose $3 million of a nearly $9 million salary.
According to ESPN, Rodriguez might face a harsher punishment than Braun for his involvement with the now-defunct Miami clinic that admitted doling out performance enhancing drugs to some of baseball’s biggest stars. Not only did Rodriguez allegedly violate the league’s drug policy, but he also reportedly tampered with evidence.
Rodriguez, whose 10-year, $275 million contract made him the highest-paid player in sports history, was reportedly seeking a deal that included a two-year suspension and the chance to cash out on some of the $100 million he is owed by the Yankees, Quinn said.
But if the slugger can’t strike a deal, he may wind up being banned from baseball for life, according to reports.
While most of the players involved in the probe are expected to accept their suspensions and punishments, Rodriguez’s legal team has repeatedly said it will appeal.
“We believe we have good, solid and strong defenses for Alex and we intend to present them when the time comes,” David Cornwell, Rodriguez’s lawyer, said in an interview with ESPN New York radio.
If Rodriguez can’t play during the appeal process and is not reinstated, he stands to lose $34.2 million in salary, according to Outside The Lines. He is anticipated to rake in $25 million in 2014.
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