Looming playoffs could force an end to negotiations in baseball’s latest drug scandal as pressure builds to impose penalties so stars can still make the postseason.
Monday appears to be the deadline for Alex Rodriguez and 13 others to accept suspensions for their ties to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. While A-Rod is expected to get a lengthy ban, a penalty starting that day would allow Texas All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz to return for October.
Major League Baseball is prepared to issue two simultaneous announcements no later than Monday, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press on Thursday. One would list players who accept suspensions; the other would name those disciplined without deals, but who could challenge penalties before an arbitrator.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
Most players face 50-game suspensions for their links to the now-closed Florida clinic, which has been accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
But baseball is threatening to kick Rodriguez out for life unless the three-time AL MVP agrees to a long ban, perhaps around 200 games.
Sidelined following hip surgery in January and then a strained quadriceps, the 38-year-old third baseman hopes to return to the Yankees in a few days. He is to play today and Saturday at Double-A Trenton, putting himself in position to rejoin New York for Monday’s series opener at the Chicago White Sox if he’s not banned.
Barring a rainout this weekend, Cruz’s Rangers would have exactly 50 games remaining before they play at the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night. Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta is the other targeted All-Star on a pennant contender, and the Tigers would have 53 games left before playing at Cleveland on Monday. Another All-Star shortstop, San Diego’s Everth Cabrera, could serve all of a 50-game suspension this year if he begins with the Padres’ game against Baltimore on Tuesday.