There is no going back: Alex Rodriguez has given his statement, on the record. Rodriguez claimed on Wednesday that he is completely innocent of using performance-enhancing drugs, as well as every other allegation that led to Major League Baseball hitting him with an unprecedented 211-game suspension back in August.
Rodriguez’s denials did not come under oath, but instead in the court of public opinion in WFAN’s New York studios. Rodriguez parachuted in for a surprise appearance with host Mike Francesa that lasted nearly 40 minutes, with Rodriguez stating that he “shouldn’t even serve one inning” of a suspension.
The appearance came after Rodriguez stormed out of the hearing room in midtown, slamming a table and kicking a briefcase in a furious response after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order Commissioner Bud Selig to testify in Rodriguez’s hearing.
“I’m done. I don’t have a chance,” Rodriguez said on WFAN.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Major League Baseball explained why Selig was not called to testify:
“In the entire history of the Joint Drug Agreement, the commissioner has not testified in a single case. Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter,” the statement read. “MLB selected Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the Players Association have no right to dictate how Baseball’s case is to proceed any more than Baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today’s antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez’s continuing refusal to testify under oath.”
Rodriguez was accompanied in WFAN’s studios by attorney Jim McCarroll, who said that Rodriguez will not testify unless Selig does. Rodriguez also released a statement through his representatives, saying that he would no longer participate.
“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” Rodriguez said. “I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”
In the Francesa interview, Rodriguez repeatedly said “I did nothing,” denying that he used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs supplied by Anthony Bosch or the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez briefly discussed his relationship with Bosch during the WFAN interview.
“It was nutrition and it was weight loss,” Rodriguez said. “And Bosch wasn’t the only guy. I traveled the world to see doctors, cutting-edge stuff, but always between the parameters of Major League Baseball. And I have hundreds of e-mails that will be part of evidence, which I can’t get into, that backs me up 100 percent.”
In response to a question from Francesa, Rodriguez acknowledged that he is “angry” at the Yankees, but said that he has a responsibility to the team and does not believe he would have any issues fitting back into the clubhouse.
“I feel like I should be there Opening Day,” Rodriguez said.
In a brief aside, Rodriguez also denied that he gave a signed baseball to two female fans during the 2012 American League Championship Series, as was widely reported. Rodriguez said that if he had done so, it certainly would have been captured by one of the many television cameras perched around Yankee Stadium.
The Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement following Rodriguez’s exit from the hearing room, disagreeing with Horowitz’s decision to excuse Selig from testifying.
“The MLBPA believes that every player has the right under our arbitration process to directly confront his accuser. We argued strenuously to the arbitrator in Alex’s case that the commissioner should be required to appear and testify. While we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator’s ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex’s suspension within the context of this hearing,” the statement read.
Another of Rodriguez’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, appeared on ESPN Radio and told host Michael Kay that further litigation may be in the future. Rodriguez has already sued MLB and Selig in state court, as well as a lawsuit against Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad that alleges medical malpractice.
Rodriguez said during the WFAN interview that he is so upset at the situation that “right now, I can’t even think straight.” Rodriguez said that he would return home to spend time with his daughters. The hearing is scheduled to resume on Thursday without Rodriguez’s presence.
I opened the door this morning to learn that the New York Post spent their night having a bit of fun with Photoshop, dressing Robinson Cano in the orange and blue of a Mets uniform.
Quite the sight, isn’t it? Of course, I can still remember seeing Bernie Williams painted into a Mets uniform on the back cover of a tabloid somewhere around ’99 or 2000 – headline: “PICTURE THIS.” That never quite came to fruition.
In any event, this Cano business is a compelling story. Cano’s representatives reportedly requested a meeting with the Mets last night at a “posh” Manhattan hotel; Jay-Z was there, as was agent Brodie Van Wagenen, but the Post reports that Cano did not attend the dinner. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, GM Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco are said to have represented the ballclub.
The timing is curious, considering Alderson said last week at the GM Meetings that he couldn’t see his club giving out a $100 million contract this winter. That seemed to rule the Mets out for the likes of Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. Cano, as you well know, has set the bar highest of all the free agents with a 10-year, $305 million asking price.
And then there’s this tidbit that Anthony DiComo tucked into his writeup:
Over his first three offseasons as Mets GM, Alderson has not given out a free-agent contract larger than Frank Francisco’s recently-expired two-year, $12 million pact.
Considering the Dodgers and Magic Johnson said very early that they will not get involved in bidding for Cano, preferring to back their Brinks trucks up to keep Clayton Kershaw happy, it makes sense that Cano’s side is looking to press another team against the Yankees to drive up the price.
No better place to start than right across town. I wonder who picked up the check?
The bags are packed and baseball is moving out of the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, signaling the conclusion of the General Managers’ Meetings and Owners Meetings for 2013-14.
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, team president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost were on hand for meetings this morning with Commissioner Bud Selig. Yankees GM Brian Cashman was also present for the conference, and said that he is looking forward to getting back to New York.
Cashman and the Yankees met with several agents and spoke to other GMs during their time here in Orlando, but there does not appear to be an imminent deal at this time. It is still early in the winter, and the GM Meetings are typically used as an information-gathering session and a jumping-off point for talks.
“As little as I have to report right now, it’s a necessary evil to walk through this process in the front end,” Cashman said.
Asked if he had made any offers to free agents while he was here, Cashman replied: “I wouldn’t say.”
The baseball world is now free to scatter, but we’re not done with Orlando for 2013: the Winter Meetings will be held Dec. 9-12 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin resort.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman held court this afternoon here at the General Managers’ meetings in Orlando and said that he remains interested in all options to improve the club’s bullpen, including looking at closers.
Mariano Rivera obviously isn’t coming back (though it looks like we’ll see him next spring — more on that later), but Cashman indicated that the Yankees haven’t decided that David Robertson is a lock to elevate from the eighth inning to the ninth inning.
“I’m not sure if Robertson is capable yet. He’s never done that before,” Cashman said. “I think he’s earned the right to take a shot at it, and he very well may be the guy. But we’re not anointing him the guy. We’ll wait to see how our winter plays out and how Spring Training works out. Then Joe [Girardi] and Larry [Rothschild] will determine at some point at the end of Spring Training who our closer is.”
For what it’s worth, Robertson said at the end of the season that he wasn’t taking anything for granted:
“I don’t feel like any of the passing of the torch has been done, because I don’t know what’s going to happen next year,” Robertson said. “I haven’t been told anything.”
More quick hits from today’s session at the GM Meetings:
Cashman said that he has “whispered to a club here or there when I can” since arriving in Orlando. He plans to stay at the meetings until Thursday.
A source said that the Yankees have serious interest in outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran. Cashman said that he needs to explore adding an outfielder, but that likely falls behind piecing together 400 innings for the rotation on the priority list.
“If Granderson accepted [the qualifying offer], I would’ve been excited and happy and it would have been solved,” Cashman said. “I have more pressing needs than outfield. In terms of a priority list, that’s not as big a priority as some other aspects of the club. That doesn’t mean I won’t be talking to the outfielders either.”
As far as free agent catching: “We will explore if we can improve offensively at that position and see where that’ll take us. There’s some that interest us. Most don’t.” Cashman added that he’ll “absolutely” tender a contract to Francisco Cervelli.
As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News first reported, the Yankees will be playing split-squad games against the Marlins in Panama on March 15 and 16.
The D-backs haven’t officially requested permission to speak with Mike Harkey about their pitching coach job, but they’re expected to. Cashman said he’ll grant permission, as it’s a promotion over Harkey’s current bullpen coach job.
Hello from the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, the site of this year’s Major League Baseball General Managers’ meetings. Yankees GM Brian Cashman checked into the hotel late last night and didn’t have much to report, but the team will get a bit more clarity this evening, when free agents must issue a decision on any qualifying offers extended to them.
For the Yankees, that means they’ll be waiting on word from the representatives for Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda. Cano won’t be accepting the one-year, $14.1 million contract, not with the certainty of much bigger dollars out there. It’d be a surprise if Granderson did, though it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility after his injury-shortened 2013 season.
The qualifying offer actually comes close to satisfying Kuroda’s needs; he has shown a preference for operating on one-year contracts, and the money is close to the $15 million he earned last season. Still, if Kuroda has decided that he wants to pitch for the Yankees again in 2014, the team would probably just slip last year’s contract across the table rather than issue him a $900,000 pay cut.
If any of the three players issued qualifying offers sign with other clubs, the Yankees would receive a compensation round pick in next year’s Draft.
The GM Meetings take place Monday and Tuesday, with the Owners’ Meetings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Hal Steinbrenner is expected to make the trip up from Tampa at some point late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
From a quick stroll around the hotel, you can already see meetings rooms being set up, fueled by bottomless pots of java. Cashman will spend the next two days chatting with his fellow GMs, setting the ground work for things that might pan out in the future. There are also conferences for assistant GMs, running the gamut of a variety of topics.
At night, you can see the Disney World fireworks being set off from a distance, which is kind of fun. There’s also a really nice golf course and a lazy river pool here, neither of which I plan on viewing from much closer than the window of my room. We’ll have updates for you as the week goes along.
If you’re bouncing around Central Park today and believe you’ve run into CC Sabathia, the chances are pretty good that you did. Sabathia and his PitCCh In Foundation are holding their “CC Challenge” today, a scavenger-hunt event in the style of TV’s ‘The Amazing Race.’
Sabathia was at a kickoff event on Friday night at the Lucky Strike bowling alley on Manhattan’s West Side and chatted a little bit with reporters, saying that he has talked with Robinson Cano – who stopped by after media availability had concluded, photos reveal – and believes the Yankees’ top priority needs to be keeping Cano in pinstripes.
He acknowledged that the Yankees have a bunch of other holes to fill, but pointed to the calendar, saying that there’s time. And if general manager Brian Cashman needs Sabathia to make a few telephone pitches along the way, Sabathia said that he’s game for that as well.
“I’m down for recruiting. I want to win,” Sabathia said. “It was hard to watch the Red Sox win the World Series this year. You want to be in that spot. Whatever you’ve got to do to get the guys to come play, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Here’s a few more offseason updates for this Saturday morning:
Other names on the Yankees’ kitchen sink list reportedly include pitchers Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo, Scott Feldman and Dan Haren, trying to flesh out a rotation that right now has only Sabathia and Ivan Nova as its locks (the Yanks also showed interest in trading for Haren back in September). The report states that Ervin Santana is not on the Yankees’ list, as the club apparently has concerns about how he would fit in New York.
Martino passes along a good point via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal: for all the talk about Granderson’s power being a Yankee Stadium creation, he hit 47 homers at home and 37 on the road during his recent healthy seasons.
There’s a little bit of news coming out of the Bronx this afternoon. The Yankees have announced that they have reached agreements with Joe Girardi’s coaching staff, and that all members of the ’13 staff will be returning for 2014.
That’s not a huge surprise; Brian Cashman said in his end-of-season press conference that the Yankees wanted to have the whole staff back if Girardi returned. We’ve been hearing drips here and there that the Yankees had been working on agreements with each of the coaches since Girardi agreed to his contract extension.
Earth-shattering news it may not be, but it’s something they had to check off. Better to get it out of the way now than have it drag on. Here’s the official press release from the Yankees:
NEW YORK YANKEES ANNOUNCE COACHING STAFF; ALL MEMBERS OF 2013 COACHING STAFF TO RETURN IN 2014
The New York Yankees today announced Joe Girardi’s coaching staff for the 2014 season. Mike Harkey (bullpen), Mick Kelleher (first base), Kevin Long (hitting), Tony Pena (bench), Larry Rothschild (pitching) and Rob Thomson (third base) will all return in the roles they served in 2013.
Harkey, 47, will enter his seventh season as the Yankees bullpen coach in 2014. Since joining the Major League coaching staff in 2008, the Yankees have gone 491-17 when leading the game at the end of the eighth inning, the most such wins in the Major Leagues over the stretch. In 2013, Yankees relievers combined for 49 saves, which was fifth-most in the Majors.
Kelleher, 66, will begin his sixth season as Yankees first base coach and 16th year as a member of the Yankees organization. Since joining the Major League staff in 2009, Kelleher has also served as the club’s infield instructor, with the team leading the Majors with a .987 fielding percentage over the five-season span. In 2013, the Yankees made just 69 errors, which was the third-lowest total in the Majors and tied the franchise record for fewest in a season (also 2010). Their .988 fielding percentage set a new franchise record, fractionally better than their .988 mark in 2010.
Long, 46, will embark on his eighth season as Yankees hitting coach in 2014 after assuming the post in 2007. In his seven seasons with the club, the Yankees have led the Major Leagues in runs scored three times (2007, ’09-10) and finished second twice (2011 and ’12). Over the seven-season span, the Yankees lead the Majors in home runs (1,437) and rank second in runs scored (5,852).
Pena, 56, will begin his sixth season as Yankees bench coach and ninth season on the Yankees Major League coaching staff, having served as the club’s first base coach from 2006-08. Additionally, he has been the team’s catching instructor in each of his eight seasons with the Major League club. Over the span, Yankees catchers have caught 279 potential base stealers, matching San Francisco for most in the Majors. Prior to the 2013 regular season, he managed the 2013 World Baseball Classic-champion Dominican Republic team and became the first WBC manager to lead his team to an undefeated record (8-0).
Rothschild, 60, will enter his fourth season as Yankees pitching coach, marking his 40th season in professional baseball as a player, coach or manager. Since joining the Yankees in 2011, the club’s pitching staff has recorded a 2.74 strikeout-to-walk ratio (3,773 strikeouts, 1,375 walks), the third-best mark in the Majors over the three-year span, trailing only the Philadelphia Phillies (2.94) and Detroit Tigers (2.77). Prior to joining the Yankees, Rothschild served as the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs for nine seasons (2002-10).
Thomson, 50, will start his 25th season as a member of the Yankees organization, seventh on the club’s Major League coaching staff and sixth as third base coach. The Ontario, Canada native oversees the Yankees’ outfielders, who combined for a .993 fielding percentage (1,119TC, 8E) in 2013, the second-best mark in the Majors behind the Baltimore Orioles (.995). Thomson served as Yankees bench coach during the 2008 season.
If the following clips are any indication, you’re going to want to set your DVR right now or make sure that you’re parked in front of the TV this weekend.
MLB Productions’ new film “BEING: Mariano Rivera” is debuting this Sunday at 2:30 pm ET on FOX. Rivera granted MLB Productions cameras significant access throughout the past year, allowing behind the scenes access through every memorable moment in and around his final season.
With hundreds of hours of footage shot for a 90-minute documentary, several fantastic moments were left on the cutting room floor. Here are four clips that DID NOT make the final cut, courtesy MLB Productions:
While visiting San Diego for the final time in early September, Rivera spends time with Trevor Hoffman, the only other man to save 600 games. The cameras and Rivera’s microphone also pick up his reaction along with his teammates to the gift the Padres give him (Robbie Cano makes a funny joke):
During All-Star Week in New York, Rivera takes some time to visit the U.S.S. Intrepid with his family, and talks about looking forward to spending more time with his kids after retirement:
Also during All-Star Week, more than a dozen of Rivera’s AL teammates gather for a photo with him in a private moment together on the field at Citi Field:
During Rivera’s last trip to Texas in July, current Rangers closer Joe Nathan gets a chance to interview Rivera:
NEW YORK — Joe Girardi has decided to stay with the Yankees, agreeing to terms on a new four-year contract extension Wednesday that will keep him managing the club through the 2017 season.
Financial terms of the deal were not immediately announced. The Yankees had said publicly that they intended to give the 48-year-old Girardi a raise over his expiring three-year, $9 million pact.
The Yankees have scheduled a 4 p.m. ET conference call for Girardi to discuss the new contract.
Girardi has guided the Yankees to a 564-408 record since taking over as manager for the 2008 season, the best record in the Majors over that span.
The Yankees finished 85-77 this year, missing the postseason for the second time in Girardi’s six years as manager.
Despite the disappointing finish, tied with the Orioles for the third-best record in the American League East, Girardi received strong votes of confidence from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman for the way he handled the club through an unprecedented rash of injuries.
Steinbrenner said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he and Girardi agreed a quick resolution to the contract situation was important since the Yankees are about to begin their offseason planning and wanted to include the manager’s input.
The Cubs and Nationals were reported to have interest in Girardi for their managerial vacancies, but the Yankees did not grant permission for Girardi – who was under contract until Nov. 1 – to speak with other clubs.
Joe Girardi received a substantial contract offer – believed to be three years between $12 and $15 million – from the Yankees late last week. He has not yet responded, which the Chicago Sun-Times suggests may be an indication that Girardi is “torn” between accepting the Yankees deal and hearing what the Cubs will have to say.
The newspaper says that Girardi has received “back-channel feelers” from the Cubs, who may be willing to top the Yankees’ offer. The Yankees have not granted Girardi permission to speak with other clubs. The Nationals are also believed to be interested in Girardi, who is under contract with the Yankees until Nov. 1.
With Girardi in a holding pattern, the Cubs are moving forward with other options to replace manager Dale Sveum. Manny Acta, Rick Renteria and A.J. Hinch are among those on the candidate list, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offseason planning is underway. General manager Brian Cashman scheduled the club’s professional scouting meetings to begin this week, a gathering that will determine the Yankees’ blueprint for the winter.