Major League Baseball is investigating allegations of Alex Rodriguez's participation in illegal poker games, an assertion that could lead to the player's suspension.
"We're talking to people involved in the investigation and we're taking this very seriously," an MLB executive told ESPNNewYork.com on condition of anonymity. "Because he had been warned about this before, I would say a possible suspension would be very much in play."
The accusations were first published by RadarOnline.com and claim the New York Yankees third baseman played in at least two games, one in which "cocaine was openly used and a fight nearly broke out when one of the players refused to pay after losing "more than a half-million dollars."
The story reports that Rodriguez "tried to distance himself from the game," once things turned violent.
Rodriguez, who is rehabbing in Miami after July 11 knee surgery, couldn't be reached for comment by ESPN.com and a call to his representative, Richard Rubenstein, was not returned.
Rodriguez had been warned in 2005 by the Yankees and baseball commissioner Bud Selig over concern that possible involvement with gamblers who might also bet on baseball games could result in a Pete Rose-type lifetime ban from the sport.
--A.J. Burnett was in perfect position to claim his first win since June 29, as the Yankees handed the right-hander a 13-1 lead after three innings Wednesday night against the White Sox.
But Burnett fell apart in a five-run Chicago fourth, then allowed another run on three hits in the fifth, prompting manager Joe Girardi to lift him before he could complete the requisite five innings for the win.
"I'm frustrated for him because that's a night that he should be able to go out and get a win, but he struggled tonight for whatever reason," Girardi said. "The other day I thought he threw the ball extremely well, and we didn't score a lot of runs. Tonight we got a lot of runs, and he struggled. I'm frustrated for him."
Burnett failed to complete five innings for the first time in 23 starts this season, setting a new high in hits allowed (13) while tying a season high by allowing seven runs. He remains winless in 12 August starts since joining the Yankees, going 0-8 with a 7.28 ERA.
Burnett was visibly frustrated when Girardi came out to pull him from the game, slapping the ball into his manager's hands as he walked off the mound. He was seen ripping his jersey off as he headed down the stairs to the clubhouse, though he insisted that his anger was directed at himself and not Girardi.
"Joe's got to do what's best for the team, keep us ahead in that game," Burnett said. "The way I was throwing the ball, it didn't seem like I could do it."
Three relievers pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-hit, shutout ball to close out the Yankees' 18-7 victory, with Cory Wade getting credited with the win.
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