While the players’ association has fought many drug penalties in the past three decades, attitudes of its membership have shifted sharply in recent years and union staff encouraged settlements in the Biogenesis probe.
‘‘The accepted suspensions announced today are consistent with the punishments set forth in the Joint Drug Agreement, and were arrived at only after hours of intense negotiations between the bargaining parties, the players and their representatives,’’ union head Michael Weiner said. ‘‘For the player appealing, Alex Rodriguez, we agree with his decision to fight his suspension. We believe that the commissioner has not acted appropriately ... The union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously.’’
Fighting a brain tumor diagnosed a year ago, Weiner spoke in a raspy voice during a conference call and said the union’s executive board will consider stiffer drug penalties when players meet in December.
But the union will fight Rodriguez’s discipline.
‘‘We've never had a 200-plus (game) penalty for a player who may have used drugs,’’ he said. ‘‘And among other things, I just think that’s way out of line.’’
A-Rod intimated Friday that New York did not want him to return. The Yankees answered Monday with a statement:
‘‘We are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees’ role in this matter,’’ the team said. ‘‘The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez.’’
Rodriguez is making $28 million this year, and his salary drops to $25 million next year and $21 million in 2015. If the 211-game penalty is upheld, his lost pay could range from $30.6 million to $32.7 million, depending on when exactly the suspension is served.
Players have often succeeded at persuading arbitrators to overturn or shorten drug suspensions. In the era before the drug agreement, LaMarr Hoyt, Ferguson Jenkins, Pascual Perez and Willie Wilson were among those who had success in hearings, and Steve Howe’s lifetime ban for a seventh suspension related to drugs or alcohol was cut to 119 days.
Weiner said a settlement prior to Horowitz’s decision is possible but not likely. David Cornwell, an attorney for one of Rodriguez’s three law firms, called the penalty an ‘‘unprecedented action.’’
Rodriguez’s suspension might dampen his future chances for election to the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire all compiled big numbers, too, but voters blocked them from Cooperstown because of the drug cloud.
Though they lose part of their salaries, the stats and awards are safe for baseball players penalized in drug cases. Nothing is stripped from any record book or trophy case.
That’s not always the case in other sports. Doping cost Lance Armstrong his seven Tour de France cycling titles and stripped away Olympic gold medals from sprinters Ben Johnson and Marion Jones.
Cruz attributed his action to a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, and said he had lost 40 pounds following the 2011 season.
‘‘I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error,’’ he said in a statement. ‘‘I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse.’’
Peralta can rejoin Detroit for a season-ending three-game series at Miami — not far from the former office of Biogenesis.
In a statement released by the Tigers, Peralta said in ‘‘spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret.’’ Peralta apologized to his teammates and ‘‘the great fans in Detroit,’’ saying he knows he let ‘‘many good people down.’’
MLB’s investigation began last year after San Francisco outfielder and All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera tested positive for elevated testosterone, as did Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal. The probe escalated in January when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from former Biogenesis associate Porter Fisher that linked several players to Biogenesis.
MLB said Melky Cabrera, Colon and Grandal will not receive additional discipline and it found no violations for Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez and Baltimore infielder Danny Valencia, both linked to Biogenesis in media reports.
In June, baseball struck a deal for Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch to cooperate. After holding investigatory interviews with the players, MLB presented evidence to the players’ union along with its intended penalties, starting the final round of negotiations.Continued...