Yankees' Alex Rodriguez files suits vs. MLB and Selig, Yanks’ doctor
Executing a legal double play, Alex Rodriguez sued both Major League Baseball and the Yankees’ team doctor in separate suits within 24 hours.
The bitter war between A-Rod and MLB found a new battlefield – New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan – as Rodriguez filed suit late Thursday against baseball and commissioner Bud Selig for orchestrating a “witch hunt” with the goal of “destroying “ his reputation and career.
On Friday, ESPN.com reported that A-Rod had made good on a threat to sue Dr. Chris Ahmad, the Yanks’ team physician, and New York-Presbyterian/Columbia Medical Center, alleging misdiagnosis of a hip injury that later required surgery.
The Yankees, who were not named in either suit, had no immediate comment.
Last month, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said “no one has hid anything” from A-Rod in terms of his medical care related to a labral tear of his left hip via MRI. Rodriguez had complained of discomfort in his previously repaired right hip.
Cashman found it contradictory, later, when one of Rodriguez’s lawyers claimed “we’re running him out there like an invalid” when A-Rod “was fighting to play.”
Earlier Friday, MLB dismissed the suit against it as “a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” while the parallel drama of A-Rod’s drug suspension appeal plays out.
A fifth day of arbitration hearings to determine whether Rodriguez’s unprecedented 211-game ban will stand, be reduced or be reversed, continued Friday at MLB’s Park Avenue headquarters.
In a statement issued Friday, Rodriguez claimed his suit against MLB is “entirely separate” from the ongoing arbitration.
“My legal team is doing what they need to in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights,” A-Rod’s statement read in part.
“I look forward to the arbitration proceedings continuing and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters.”
MLB blasted back in a statement of its own, saying A-Rod’s lawsuit “is a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program.”
The New York Times was first to report the original suit. Among its charges are:
* MLB paid Anthony Bosch, the “alleged mastermind” of the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic at the center of baseball’s steroids investigation, $5 million in monthly installments to buy his cooperation.
* MLB investigators paid $150,000 in cash for records relating to Rodriguez that were purportedly stolen from Porter Fischer, a former business associate of Bosch at Biogenesis. And that the money was “handed off in a bag” at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area restaurant.
* MLB engaged in “tortious interference” regarding Rodriguez’s existing Yankees contract (which runs through 2017) and prospective business relationships.
* MLB investigators “harassed, intimidated and pressured individuals from whom they sought cooperation,” including in one instance posing as police officers to pull over a potential witness.
* MLB investigator Dan Mullin “engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a witness he interviewed about the Biogenesis matter.” The suit does not specify the witness or the use of the term “inappropriate.”
Bosch’s spokesperson publicly denied that Bosch earned any sum of money from MLB in exchange for his cooperation.
But Bosch’s testimony was essential to MLB’s case and baseball is said to have dropped Bosch from a lawsuit and offered to indemnify him against future litigation.
Fischer told ESPN that MLB offered him $125,000 for his documents, a sum that he rejected. He said those documents were stolen from his car at a later date. MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred told the Daily News that “we did not steal anything from anybody.”
Rodriguez, 38, stands to forfeit his $25 million salary for 2014 if arbitrator Fredric Horowitz upholds MLB’s suspension; the hearing is likely to run into November because of scheduling issues.
Of the 13 players suspended by MLB for their connections to steroids and Biogenesis, only Rodriguez has appealed. However, Brewers slugger Ryan Braun was the only other player to receive more than a 50-game ban, drawing a 65-game suspension.
According to A-Rod’s suit, “Major League Baseball’s public persecution of Mr. Rodriguez has known no bounds,” and that “substantial and repeated breaches of confidentiality” have caused him irreparable harm.
The suit claims that Nike and Toyota terminated sponsorship negotiations with Rodriguez because of MLB’s “continual leaks and accusations,” and also caused him to be cut out of the animated movie, “Henry and Me,” which has never been distributed.
To MLB, it’s just another smoke-and-mirror attempt to evade the core reason for A-Rod’s ban: “Whether Mr. Rodriguez violated [the joint drug agreement] by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years,” MLB’s statement said. “And whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”
A-Rod’s team is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages from MLB, as well as cost of attorneys’ fees.