NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez was back with the Trenton Thunder on Friday and hit what might be his last home run in a while.
With a lengthy suspension looming, the New York Yankees star hit a two-run homer to left in the third inning against the Reading Fightin Phils.
Rodriguez is among 14 players facing discipline in Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis investigation, and suspensions are expected on Monday — with Rodriguez facing the longest penalty.
Coming back from hip surgery and a quadriceps injury, A-Rod was hoping to return to the Yankees for the first time since last October.
But he might not get there any time soon because of his alleged connection to the closed anti-aging clinic that’s been accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Most targeted players face 50-game bans, including All-Stars Nelson Cruz of Detroit and Jhonny Peralta of Texas.
Many of the players are expected to follow the example set by Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun last month and accept penalties without a challenge before an arbitrator. First-time offenders who challenge suspensions can continue to play until their appeals are decided.
“Let’s just get it over with,” Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
The Yankees expect A-Rod to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation, and not being truthful with MLB in the past.
Baseball has been attempting to gain a suspension through at least 2014 and has threatened a possible lifetime ban, and negotiations over Rodriguez’s penalty were likely to go through the weekend, with the 38-year-old resisting such a lengthy stretch on the sidelines.
Baseball’s highest-paid player with a $28 million salary, A-Rod has three law firms working for him — Gordon & Rees; Reed Smith; and Cohen, Weiss & Simon.
Rodriguez seemed to be on the verge of rejoining the Yankees before the leg injury last month.
New York assigned him to Trenton for two games and has not said where he’ll go afterward.
With the Yankees at San Diego through Sunday, it would appear Rodriguez’s first opportunity to rejoin them would be for Monday’s series opener at the Chicago White Sox. It was not clear whether Commissioner Bud Selig would attempt to use provisions of baseball’s labor contract to prevent Rodriguez from playing until arbitrator Fredric Horowitz rules on appeal.
Lawyers from management and the union plus attorneys for individual players spent Friday working their way through the many issues resulting from mass suspensions.
For instance: Will there be different treatment for minor leaguers depending whether they are on 40-man rosters.
Under the drug rules, 40-man roster players serving a 50-game suspension would have major league games in September count as time served after the minor league seasons end. Seattle catcher Jesus Montero, Mets outfielder Cesar Puello and Baltimore third baseman Danny Valencia might be in that group.
But that time wouldn’t count for players not on 40-man rosters, whose suspensions would spill into 2014. Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez could be in that category.
For many players, the damage to their images already has been inflicted. Rodriguez has faced fan taunting since 2009, when he said he used PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03.
Nike Inc. confirmed Friday that it no longer has a relationship with Braun, the 2011 NL MVP who accepted a 65-game suspension last month that ended the Milwaukee outfielder’s season.
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