Published January 13, 2015
In question-and-answer form, a look at the issues and implications of Major League Baseball's suspensions Monday resulting from its investigation of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs:
Q: What happened to Alex Rodriguez?
A: New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games starting Thursday through the end of the 2014 season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement — the sport's labor contract. Major League Baseball said the drug suspension was based on "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years." Rodriguez's discipline under the collective bargaining agreement was "for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner's investigation."
Q: What is the next step?
A: Rodriguez will authorize a grievance to be filed, probably on Wednesday. As a first offender under the drug program, that means his discipline will be stayed pending a hearing and decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
Q: When will the hearing take place?
A: It could start this month or be delayed until September or later as lawyers for MLB and for Rodriguez and the Major League Baseball Players Association prepare. Union head Michael Weiner said he didn't expect a decision until November at the earliest.
Q: Why did Rodriguez make his major league season debut just hours after the suspension was announced?
A: The 38-year-old Rodriguez, recovering from hip surgery in January, appeared set to rejoin the Yankees last month until an MRI on July 21 revealed a strained quadriceps. While Rodriguez pushed to be activated, New York delayed and made him play in a pair of injury rehabilitation games at Double-A Trenton last weekend. When he joined the Yankees for Monday night's game at the Chicago White Sox, he went 1 for 4 with a single in his first major league action since his 3-for-25 performance during last year's playoffs.
Q: How much will the suspension cost Rodriguez?
A: The exact amount isn't known because it is not clear how many games of the suspension he will serve in each season. Rodriguez earns a major league-high $28 million this year, $25 million in 2014 and $21 million in 2015, which could be the final year of the penalty. If 49 games are served at the 2013 rate, total lost pay would be $32,749,268. If 49 games are served at the 2015 rate, total lost pay would be $30,562,951.
Q: Who else was penalized Monday?
A: Twelve players agreed to accept 50-game suspensions from Major League Baseball: Philadelphia left-handed pitcher Antonio Bastardo, San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz, San Diego right-handed pitcher Fautino De Los Santos (on the roster of San Antonio in the Double-A Texas League), Houston left-hander Sergio Escalona (on the roster of Corpus Christi in the Texas League), Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez (on the roster of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Triple-A International League), Seattle catcher Jesus Montero (on option to Tacoma in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League), free agent left-handed pitcher Jordan Norberto, Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta, New York Mets outfielder Cesar Puello (on option to Binghamton in the Double-A Eastern League) and Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin (on option to Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League). Cabrera, Cruz and Peralta were All-Stars this year.
Q: What was the total number of players disciplined in the Biogenesis investigation?
A: Eighteen in all. Toronto outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal previously served 50-game suspensions for positive tests for testosterone in 2012. Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun agreed July 22 to accept a 65-game suspension. Detroit right-handed pitcher Cesar Carrillo was suspended for 100 games on March 10 this year for violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, then was released on July 25.
Q: Were any players cleared among the group linked to Biogenesis in media reports?
A: Yes. MLB said it found no violations of the drug program by Washington left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez and Baltimore infielder Danny Valencia.
Q: Previously, what was the longest suspension for PEDs under the major league drug program?
A: San Francisco pitcher Guillermo Mota was suspended for 100 games in May 2012 for a positive test for Clenbuterol, his second violation. He had been suspended for 50 games in November 2006.
Q: Will Rodriguez's AL Most Valuable Player awards from 2003, 2005 and 2007 be taken away?
A: No. The Baseball Writers' Association of America says its voting is final when it is conducted and will not be revisited. Carlos Delgado finished second in 2003, David Ortiz in 2005 and Magglio Ordonez in 2007.