A-Rod arbitration hearing resumes; defense set to attack

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

A-Rod's arbitration hearing is about to get serious. (USATSI)
A-Rod's arbitration hearing is about to get serious. (USATSI)

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Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is of course facing a 211-game suspension for his alleged role in the Biogenesis/PED scandal centered around the former south Florida anti-aging clinic founded by Anthony Bosch. A-Rod's defense team and MLB are presently exchanging blows before an arbitration panel in New York to determine whether that suspension will stand. A-Rod's illness put a brief halt to the proceedings, but they resumed on Monday.

As for the road ahead, the thrust of A-Rod's case may begin soon. A-Rod himself is likely to testify soon, and then A-Rod's team will continue angling to discredit MLB's entire investigation, which, it's alleged, is sordid at best and illegal at worst. To do this, the defense will call many witnesses; however, some of those witnesses may not be forced to testify. For instance, Rodriguez's team is expected to summon commissioner Bud Selig and Yankees CEO Randy Levine to the stand. However, the independent arbitrator may not compel them to testify unless it can be established that they have information material to the case, which seems unlikely.

In the case of MLB's lead investigator Dan Mullin, though, it seems likely he would be forced to testify, and therein may lie the best hope for A-Rod's side. As the New York Daily News notes, the separate suit that A-Rod filed against MLB alleges that Mullin engaged in "an inappropriate sexual relationship" with a former employee of Bosch and Biogenesis.

But that's far from all. Mike Fish of ESPN.com has written a fairly exhaustive run-down on how A-Rod's camp will attack MLB's procurement of Biogensis clinic records in general and Mullin's role in particular. To summarize part of the somewhat tortuous story, Porter Fischer, a former colleague of Bosch's, was driving home with clinic documents, which he was prepared to hand over to the Florida Department of Health, which was conducting its own investigation. Then, Fish writes:

That Sunday morning, a few minutes before noon, he pulled up and saw Jones standing beside his white van -- parked behind Boca Tanning Club. Fischer parked his rented silver Toyota Corolla a spot away. He remembers shooting the breeze briefly with Jones and Anthony Carbone, before heading into a tanning booth to try his friend's new spray.

When he returned to his car about 40 minutes later, the trunk was open. Glass from the shattered passenger-side window was spread about the pavement.

According to a police report about the burglary, gone were the boxes of patient files, including three notebooks compiled by clinic nurses and a former Bosch business partner. Also gone: a notebook computer, cell phone and a loaded Beretta .32 caliber pistol. Left behind was a 12-gauge shotgun inside a cardboard rifle box.

Also shattered was the driver's side window of the van driven by Jones. Gone was a Dell laptop computer. Unlike Fischer, police records state, Jones "did not wish to file a report of the incident."

Less than three weeks after the break-in, records indicate that Hill, the Florida Department of Health investigator, alerted police to a New York Times report that the MLB commissioner's office paid someone for clinic documents.

Presumably, the defense is going to attempt to link MLB to those stolen documents. On that point, and as Fish writes, "Jones," who is Gary Jones, allegedly sold those clinic files to Mullin and MLB in exchange for $125,000.

In other words, if and when Mullin takes the stand, that's when A-Rod's defense team will likely lay out the meat of its case. Will they be able to prove impropriety? Will the independent arbitrator be sufficiently concerned as to how MLB acquired those pieces of evidence? Those questions remain unanswered for now.

According to the Daily News, the hearing is expected to run through next week, and independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz is expected to issue his ruling some time around Christmas.

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