NEW YORK – After a year of battling with Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez effectively ended his fight Friday, dropping his lawsuits against baseball and the players’ union over his doping suspension.
The legal move means Rodriguez, the New York Yankees’ third baseman, has accepted he will be sidelined for the entire 2014 season plus the postseason — the longest suspension in the sport’s history for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Without admitting to the use of banned substances, the 38-year-old Rodriguez submitted papers in federal court in New York seeking to voluntarily dismiss two widely publicized lawsuits he has filed in recent months.
In one of the cases, Rodriguez had sued MLB and the players’ union, seeking to throw out an independent arbitrator’s decision that upheld most of his 211-game suspension. In the other suit, filed in October, Rodriguez named MLB and its commissioner, Bud Selig, as defendants, claiming they engaged in a “witch hunt” as they investigated his use of banned substances.
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But former Mariner Rodriguez’s energy for continuing to pursue his case in the courts began to wane in recent weeks as legal experts predicted dim prospects for the suits and as the public grew increasingly weary of his battle. The arbitrator’s report in his case, which was made public as a result of the lawsuit Rodriguez filed in January, offered a detailed account of Rodriguez’s alleged doping regimen.
Both MLB and the union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, applauded Rodriguez’s decision to drop the suits.
“We believe that Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow major league players,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “We share that desire.”
The union, in a statement, said: “Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit. His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
Rodriguez has said he plans to rejoin the Yankees for the 2015 season and has shown no intention he plans to retire. He will not try to join the Yankees in spring training this year, his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said.
Friday’s developments come more than a year after a report in the Miami New Times, a weekly newspaper, linked Rodriguez to Biogenesis of America, a South Florida anti-aging clinic. The newspaper obtained records from Biogenesis, which was directed by Anthony P. Bosch, suggesting Rodriguez and a number of ballplayers had taken banned substances from the clinic.
Initially, Bosch and Rodriguez both denied the relationship, but later Bosch began cooperating with MLB investigators. Information provided by Bosch, who is not licensed to practice medicine in Florida, led to 14 suspensions, including ones accepted by All-Stars Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz.
Rodriguez, who received a longer suspension than the others, was the only player to appeal his suspension.
• Oakland outfielder Coco Crisp, 34, is staying with the team for an additional two seasons after agreeing to a new contract through 2016 that adds $22.75 million in guaranteed money.
• Right-hander Bronson Arroyo, 36, and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed on a two-year, $23.5 million contract with a team option for a third. Arroyo, who pitched for Cincinnati the past eight years, has a 138-127 record with a 4.19 earned-run average in 14 major-league seasons.
• Mike Sweeney, a first baseman-designated hitter who was a five-time All-Star for Kansas City, has been hired as the team’s special assistant to baseball operations. He was a Mariner in 2009 and 2010, hitting .276 in 104 games.