Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the drawn-out Alex Rodriguez appeal hearing is complicating offseason plans because the team doesn't know whether the third baseman's 211-game suspension will be upheld or not. "I think it complicates," Girardi said at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. Rodriguez's appeal for violating the joint drug agreement and the collective bargaining agreement resumes Nov. 18th in Manhattan. At that point, A-Rod's side will begin its defense. One of Rodriguez's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said that will last at least five days. If it doesn't conclude by the end of that week, then the two sides, along with arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, would have to figure out another date to convene. When the appeal does finally end, Horowitz is expected to decide within 25 days. So the Yankee will likely not find out until sometime in December, perhaps even later. "It's important that we know," Girardi said "Because if we're not going to have him, we need to fill that void. It does cause us to think a lot about, 'Do we need a third baseman or do we not need a third baseman?' "Hopefully we'll know sooner rather than later." Meanwhile, lawyers for both sides spent Thursday morning in a Manhattan courtroom for the first conference of Rodriguez's lawsuit against commissioner Bud Selig and MLB for what his side describes as a "witch hunt." On Thursday morning, Girardi joined former teammate and current Yankees' TV analyst David Cone in the Bronx, as the team and the USO hosted approximately 150 volunteers to assemble 5,000 Big Apple Packs for active servicemen and servicewoman. While the Yankees are attempting to lower their payroll to $189 million to drop their luxury tax, they have devised a plan that could see them spending in excess of $300 million. Sources have told ESPN New York that the Yankees' top priorities are re-signing Robinson Cano, winning the bidding for Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka and signing free agent Brian McCann.