With all the uncomfortable and, really, quite unfathomable stuff that has happened since Alex Rodriguez was suspended 211 games for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, we still might have the most bizarre in the future. Imagine if arbitrator Fredric Horowitz upholds A-Rod’s suspension and yet Rodriguez is still in the Yankees’ spring training camp every day. It is not an impossible scenario. In fact, officials from the Players Association said they believe it is within Rodriguez’s rights to attend spring training as a still-signed player even if he is suspended. The Commissioner’s Office said it is an issue that must be discussed with the union, but agreed no language currently bars him. In the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA), a suspended player is presumed to have all the rights and obligations he would have under his contract except he cannot play in regular-season games. To date, that has been interpreted as the player cannot be in uniform for regular-season games once the gates open and paying customers can enter. Players Association executives told me if MLB or the Yankees attempted to bar Rodriguez from spring training, they would file a grievance arguing it is punishment beyond what is in the JDA. Officials from the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association meet annually to discuss the status of the JDA and if the agreement needs to be amended. That meeting is expected to be late this month or early next month, and Dan Halem, MLB’s Senior VP/General Counsel-Labor, said the issue of a player suspended for a full season attending spring training will be discussed. “We’ve never had a suspension of this length and the issue if a player who is going to miss an entire season could attend spring training,” Halem said. “We intend to raise this issue with the union if a player that is going to miss an entire season belongs in spring training.” It is possible the two sides will agree a player suspended beyond, say, 50 games receives no practical benefit from prepping in spring training and should be barred. But if they don’t and Rodriguez wants to attend, the issue could be headed for another grievance, which also would be heard by Horowitz. Rodriguez’s spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment on whether A-Rod would want to go to spring training. But, to date, Rodriguez has shown: A) a desire to stay in the spotlight; B) a penchant for wanting to provoke MLB and the Yankees; and C) an actual love of being around the game. Attending spring training would give him all three. Although – if the suspension were upheld – he would not be playing in 2014, he still would be the center of the Yankees universe in spring training because he is Alex Rodriguez. He also would be a massive distraction to a team preparing for a season. Remember, Rodriguez very well might have multiple lawsuits against Yankee entities at that time.
A suspended A-Rod at spring training? MLB can’t stop him yet
New York Post | Nov 14