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Sports

November 23, 2013

A-Rod, MLB await decision, expected in January

NEW YORK — Now the waiting begins for Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball.

A-Rod’s grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game suspension ended Thursday when both sides rested their cases, a day after the New York Yankees third baseman angrily walked out and decided not to testify in his own defense.

The sides set a schedule to file briefs by Dec. 11 and reply briefs by Dec. 21, which will close the record and submit the matter to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.

His decision on whether to uphold or alter the discipline for the three-time AL MVP likely will be made in January, a person familiar with the proceedings told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

Rodriguez’s lawyers already are vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court, where judges usually are reticent to overturn an arbitration decision unless there is a finding the arbitrator was biased, exceeded his authority or failed to comply with the rules agreed to by the parties.

The exact timing of a decision is uncertain. Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement states the arbitrator shall make “all reasonable efforts” to close the record in time to permit a decision within 25 days of the start of the hearing. But in this case, the hearing began Sept. 30, making that timetable impossible to meet.

After the arbitrator renders his decision, the written opinion is to be issued within 30 days. It is unclear if Horowitz will issue his written opinion simultaneously with his decision.

The timing of the case could complicate planning for the Yankees, who don’t know if they will have to pay Rodriguez his $25 million salary and are unsure whether they will need a different starting third baseman.

Rodriguez was suspended by MLB on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball’s drug policy and labor agreement stemming from the league’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida. The players’ association filed a grievance, and because Rodriguez was a first-time offender of the drug agreement, the discipline automatically was stayed pending a resolution of the grievance.

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