Alex Rodriguez has been banned for 211 regular-season games by Major League Baseball for his part in the sport’s latest performance-enhancing drugs scandal.
The New York Yankees star vowed to appeal the suspension, which takes effect Thursday. He’ll be allowed to play during the grievance process and will make his season debut Monday night in Chicago.
The 14-time All-Star is starting at third base and batting cleanup on Monday night.
Rodriguez’s suspension will run through 2014.
“I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process,” A-Rod said in a statement Monday. “I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side through all this.”
The third baseman was linked during the offseason to Biogenesis, the Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing PEDs. A-Rod denied all ties to the clinic and its operator, Anthony Bosch, after the Miami New Times published its bombshell report in January.
Bosch agreed to cooperate with MLB’s probe in June.
“Rodriguez’s discipline under the joint drug prevention and treatment program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years,” MLB said in a statement.
“Rodriguez’s discipline under the basic agreement is for 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) pretty much ruined the sport,” one fan told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “He made the Yankees look bad, he made himself look bad, he made his fans look bad, it’s bad for , it’s bad for himself and he really let a lot of people down. No. He actually shouldn’t be playing at all, for that matter.
“This might be the largest booing of any human being ever in baseball history when he walks out into Cellular Park tonight with a uniform on,” Suzyn Waldman of the WCBS 880 Yankees radio team said.
MLB delivered its verdict around 3 p.m. Monday.
Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Jordany Valdespin of the New York Mets were among 12 players who accepted 50-game suspensions. Mets minor leaguer Cesar Puello and Yankees farmhand Fernando Martinez were also on the list.
Others included Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera and pitcher Fautino De Los Santos; and free agent Jordan Norberto.
“Despite the challenges this situation has created during a great season on the field, we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “For weeks, I have noted the many players throughout the game who have strongly voiced their support on this issue, and I thank them for it.”
A-Rod, facing a more severe penalty, was the lone holdout. Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun previously accepted a 65-game ban.
“Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, all of whom already have served 50-game suspensions as a result of their violations of the joint drug prevention and treatment program stemming from their connections to Biogenesis, will not receive additional discipline,” the league said, adding: “Major League Baseball’s investigation found no violations of the joint drug prevention and treatment program by either Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez or Baltimore Orioles infielder Danny Valencia.”
The players’ union “tried to strike a deal” Monday on behalf of A-Rod but was “rebuffed,” ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported via Twitter.
“For the player appealing, Alex Rodriguez, we agree with his decision to fight his suspension,” MLBPA chief Michael Weiner said in a statement. “We believe that the Commissioner has not acted appropriately under the Basic Agreement. Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously.”
He added: “I want to close by stating our profound disappointment in the way individuals granted access to private and privileged information felt compelled to share that information publicly. The manner in which confidential information was so freely exchanged is not only a threat to the success and credibility of our jointly administered program; it calls into question the level of trust required to administer such a program.”
Weiner added that the appeal process won’t be finished before the season ends.
Rodriguez’s attorney, David Cornwell, called the league’s action “regrettable” and said “all legal remedies” would be pursued.
In a statement, the Yankees voiced their support for MLB’s drug program and appeals process. The team also addressed “certain reckless and false allegations” relating to A-Rod.
“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,” the Yankees said. “Separately, we are disappointed with the news today of the suspension of Francisco Cervelli. It’s clear that he used bad judgment.”
One fan on Park Avenue near Selig’s office told WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane that this is like “The Real Housewives Of New Jersey,” a drama that’s always on and never ending.
The 38-year-old is coming off a second hip surgery and will have four years and $86 million remaining on his contract after the 2013 season. The ban will reportedly cost him about $35 million — less if overturned in arbitration.
“If he loses that appeal, then the 211 games goes on to the next year. And if he has to miss all of next year and then it goes into 2015, I would imagine that that effectively ends his career. So he’s really got to think about this,” Suzyn Waldman said.