Alex Rodriguez and his representatives argued in the appeal of a 211-game suspension that the New York Yankees third baseman thought he was taking legal supplements supplied by the Biogenesis of America clinic, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.
The Daily News cited sources from this week's hearings with Major League Baseball that Rodriguez says he was duped by Anthony Bosch, the founder of the now-shuttered Florida clinic. Bosch told investigators that Rodirguez knew what he was taking.
Ron Berkowitz, speaking on Rodriguez's behalf, issued a statement on Wednesday disputing the Daily News report.
Rodriguez was suspended Aug. 5 for alleged violations of MLB's drug agreement and labor contract and for interfering with the investigation. He appealed and finished the season with the Yankees after returning from hip surgery and a prolonged rehab during the offseason.
The players' union is arguing that the discipline lacks merit and is excessive considering Rodriguez is a first-time offender. According to a report, Rodriguez was suspended because of a "non-analytical positive" and did not fail a drug test during his alleged ties to Bosch.
Bosch was to be cross-examined by Rodriguez's attorneys on Wednesday. The Daily News reported the three-time American League MVP's lawyers will point out Bosch reportedly was paid for supplying evidence by MLB.
If no settlement is reached in the hearing in New York, which is expected to continue through the week, the case will go to arbitrator Frederic Horowitz. He is likely to issue a ruling sometime during the winter.
Rodriguez was one of 13 players suspended and/or fined by baseball as a result of its investigation into the clinic and performance-enhancing substances. The others served their punishment.
---The Chicago Cubs have an opening for a manager and an interest in Joe Girardi, according to an ESPN report.
The Cubs see Girardi as an attractive candidate to replaced Dale Sveum, who was fired after a second consecutive dismal season as manager of the rebuilding team.
Girardi's contract with the Yankees expires Oct. 31 and he can't negotiate with another team unless his current employer grants him permission. Girardi is currently making $3 million and will command a significant raise commensurate with the $5 million that Mike Scioscia makes as manager of the Angels.
An Illinois native, Girardi played for the Cubs during his major league career and also managed the Florida Marlins in 2006 before he went to the Yankees in 2008.
The Yankees want to keep the 48-year-old Girardi, who guided the team to a 564-408 record, a World Series championship and three American League East titles in the past six years.
General manager Brian Cashman met with Girardi on Monday and planned to meet with Girardi's agent, as well.
Girardi said Sunday he would like to resolve his future as soon as possible. If he doesn't re-sign with the Yankees, he also might consider working in television.
If Girardi stays with the Yankees, the Cubs may be interested in former Arizona Diamondbacks manager and current San Diego Padres assistant general manager A.J. Hinch, according to ESPN.com.
---Second baseman Dan Uggla is not included on the Atlanta Braves' 25-man roster for the National League Division Series.
Uggla, the Braves' highest paid player at $13 million, struggled this season, batting .179 with 22 home runs and 55 RBIs. Since returning from August eye surgery, Uggla was hitting .133 and had struck out 25 times.
Elliot Johnson is expected to take the 33-year-old Uggla's place at second base in the opening playoff series.
Others left off the NLDS roster were left-handed pitchers Paul Maholm (10-11) and Scott Downs. Maholm had 26 starts during the regular season. Downs was used out of the bullpen since coming to the Braves from the Angels, but had a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings for Atlanta.
With Maholm not on the roster, manager Fredi Gonzalez will use 36-year-old Freddy Garcia as a fourth starter, if necessary.
The Braves face the Los Angeles Dodgers at 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday at Turner Field in the best-of-five division series opener.
---After finishing the 2013 season with 111 losses and a 15-game losing streak, the Houston Astros made several changes on their coaching staff.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail will become a senior pitching advisor and special assistant to general manager Jeff Luhnow, while first base coach Dave Clark and bullpen coach Dennis Martinez were dismissed, the team announced.
First-year manager Bo Porter will be back next season.
The 46-year-old Brocail took over as Houston's interim pitching coach in June 2011 and served in the position for the past two years.
Clark, 51, had worked as the Astros' third base coach for four seasons and the first base coach this year.
Martinez, 58, joined the Astros this season after working as a pitching coach for six years in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization.