Source: A-Rod Can Play During Suspension Appeal

Alex Rodriguez will be suspended Monday, likely through the 2014 season.

Baseball is threatening to kick Rodriguez out of the game for life unless the Yankees star agrees not to fight a lengthy suspension for his role in the sport's latest drug scandal.
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RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez will be suspended Monday, likely through the 2014 season, as part of Major League Baseball's latest drug investigation but can play while he appeals, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

Major League Baseball informed the New York Yankees on Sunday that A-Rod will be suspended for his links to a clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statement was authorized. [READ: A-Rod May Receive Lifetime Ban]

The Yankees weren't told the exact length of the suspension, though they were under the impression it will be through the 2014 season, the person said. The Yankees star could get a shorter penalty if he agrees to give up the right to file a grievance and force the case before an arbitrator, the person added.

 

A suspension from Monday through 2014 would add to 214 games, and an unsuccessful appeal could stretch serving the penalty into 2015. In the era before players and owners agreed to a drug plan in late 2002, arbitrators often shortened drug suspensions — in the case of Yankees pitcher Steve Howe, his penalty was cut from a lifetime ban to 119 days.

MLB planned an announcement for noon EDT Monday, a second person familiar with the deliberations said, also on condition of anonymity.

Rodriguez is the most famous player linked to the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida, and the Yankees expect him to be charged with interfering with MLB's investigation, resulting in a harsher penalty than the other 13 players facing discipline.

Barring an agreement, Rodriguez's appeal would be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.  

[READ: Baseball's A-Rod, Ryan Braun Tied to Controversial Florida Clinic]

Adding to the drama: The 38-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, was due to return to the major leagues Monday night when the Yankees play at Chicago White Sox, his first big league appearance since hip surgery in January.

"He's in there, and I'm going to play him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Sunday after New York's 6-3 loss at San Diego.

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson was excited A-Rod could play during an appeal.

"I want him back with us. This is arguably one of the best hitters of all-time," he said. "Having him in the lineup is obviously going to be very positive for us."

New York is a season-high 9½ games out of first place in the AL East and 4½ out in the race for the second wild-card spot.

"We're going to be happy to see him back in the lineup, especially the way we've been playing," second baseman Robinson Cano said. "He can come up and help us win some games."

All-Stars Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jhonny Peralta of Detroit and Everth Cabrera of San Diego were among those who could get 50-game suspensions from the probe, sparked in January when Miami New Times published documents linking many players to the closed clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. [VOTE: Should the MLB Suspend Players Suspected of Using Performance Enhancing Drugs?]

Many players were expected to agree to penalties and start serving them immediately, but an appeal by a first-offender under the drug agreement would postpone his suspension until after a decision by an arbitrator.

Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, agreed July 22 to a 65-game ban through the rest of the 2013 season for his role with Biogenesis. Braun was given a 50-game suspension for elevated testosterone that was overturned last year by arbitrator Shyam Das because of issues with the handing of the urine sample,

Since spring training, the union has said it will consider stiffer penalties starting in 2014.

"The home runs that are hit because a guy's on performance-enhancing substances, those ruin somebody's ERA, which ruins their arbitration case, which ruins their salary," Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said. "So it's a whole domino effect."

Rodriguez's return from hip surgery was slowed by a quadriceps injury. He completed his second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment on Saturday night, a two-day stay at Double-A Trenton. Rodriguez walked in all four plate appearances, a day after hitting a two-run homer.