Suspended New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez abandoned his fight against Major League Baseball, dropping his lawsuit for tortuous interference in US District Court in Manhattan.
Rodriguez also withdrew lawsuits against commissioner Bud Selig and the MLB Players Association, ending his battle to overturn an unprecedented 211-game suspension in connection with baseball’s Biogenesis investigation that was reduced last month to 162 games plus the 2014 playoffs by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
Rodriguez’s attorney Joseph Tacopina confirmed to ESPN that a notice of voluntary dismissal was filed in the cases Friday afternoon. No explanation was given and no further details were provided.
“The statements that were issued say everything that needs to be said. We have no further comments on this matter,” Tacopina, one of Rodriguez’s nine attorneys, wrote in an email to the Associated Press.
Rodriguez was in Miami on Friday and made no public remarks.
Sources told ESPN in recent days that Rodriguez had been considering dropping the lawsuits for several reasons, not the least of which was the anticipated $10 million it would cost him in legal fees to continue his fight to play baseball in 2014. Rodriguez is already losing $25 million in salary during his suspension.
Also, sources told ESPN that Rodriguez was seeking to reconcile with baseball in hopes of continuing to work in the industry once his playing days are finished. His contract with the Yankees runs through 2017, and he has told confidantes he has every intention of returning to the field in 2015.
According to sources familiar with the proceedings, Rodriguez had in recent days made contact with MLB COO Rob Manfred, who spearheaded baseball’s Biogenesis investigation that resulted in the suspensions of 13 players, in the hopes of repairing relations with the sport.
“It was a question of either becoming Pete Rose or Ryan Braun,” said the source, referring to Rodriguez’s fear that he would be ostracised from the game the way Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, has been since it was revealed he gambled on baseball while a manager.
Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, accepted a 65-game suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis and is expected to resume his career with the Milwaukee Brewers.
According to sources, Rodriguez hopes to pursue a career in broadcasting or even partial team ownership after his retirement and feared a protracted legal fight might cause him to be, in the words of a source, “blackballed” by baseball.
In addition, the Supreme Court has established narrow grounds for overturning arbitrators’ decisions, and legal experts said Rodriguez had virtually no chance of succeeding in his attempt to have Horowitz’s decision vacated.
Rodriguez, who will turn 39 in July, dropped a hint about being resigned to accepting his fate during an interview in Mexico last month when he said, “I think that in the year 2014, the league could have done me a favor because I’ve played 20 years without a timeout. I think 2014 will be a year to rest mentally and physically prepare myself for the future and begin a new chapter of my life. I have three years left on my contract starting in 2015 and I hope to play very well and finish my career in New York.”
This week, he initiated conversations with Manfred, according to sources, seeking assurances that if he dropped the lawsuits there would be no further reprisals from baseball.
Manfred refused to comment on the matter when reached by phone Friday afternoon, but baseball released the following statement:
“We have been informed that Alex Rodriguez has reached the prudent decision to end all of the litigation related to the Biogenesis matter. We believe that Mr. Rodriguez’s actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow major league players. We share that desire.”
Commissioner Bud Selig, at a private party in Washington celebrating the 80th birthday of Hank Aaron, had no comment on Rodriguez’s dropping of the lawsuits, referring instead to the league’s statement.
Neither Rodriguez’s spokesman, Ron Berkowitz, nor Yankees team president Randy Levine had immediate reaction.
Tacopina also confirmed one other loose end: Rodriguez – who had vowed to join his team-mates when they report to camp in Tampa, Florida, on February 19 – will no longer be heading to spring training.
“Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit,” the MLBPA said in a statement. “His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
Rodriguez does have one lawsuit remaining. He sued Yankees physician Christopher Ahmad and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York State Supreme Court in October, claiming they mishandled his medical care during the 2012 American League play-offs. Rodriguez later was diagnosed with a hip injury that required surgery and did not return to the Yankees until August 5 – hours after his suspension was announced by Selig.
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