Alex Rodriguez undaunted by impending ban

He plans to join Yankees Monday

Alex Rodriguez suggested Friday that MLB and the Yankees were conspiring against him.
tom mihalek/associated press
Alex Rodriguez suggested Friday that MLB and the Yankees were conspiring against him.

TRENTON, N.J. — Alex Rodriguez brushed aside any worries about a pending suspension, saying he’s headed to Chicago and plans to play for the New York Yankees on Monday night.

‘‘I'm excited to play Monday,’’ the star third baseman said after drawing four straight walks with Double A Trenton on Saturday night. ‘‘I can’t wait to see my teammates. I feel like I can help them win.’’

Rodriguez said he would work out Sunday — no one disclosed the site — and then travel to Chicago, where the Yankees will open a three-game series with the White Sox on Monday.


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‘‘I'm flying to Chicago,’’ he said.

Major League Baseball and the Yankees turned down requests Saturday to meet with Rodriguez’s camp and the union about the embattled star’s expected drug penalty, two people familiar with the talks told the Associated Press.

The overtures were made two days before MLB was poised to hand Rodriguez a lengthy suspension for his part in the Biogenesis case. The two people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.

There hasn’t been any definite word on the severity of Rodriguez’s looming penalty, with speculation ranging from a lifetime ban to a suspension through the 2014 season.


Also possible, according to those familiar with the talks, was a suspension lasting until Aug. 31, 2014, the day before all teams are permitted to expand their rosters from 25 players to 40.

‘‘I've been on the field the last 5½ hours. I haven’t seen or heard anything,’’ Rodriguez said Saturday. ‘‘My focus has been on baseball. As far as any of that stuff, I'll let those guys take care of what they need to take care of.’’

Before Rodriguez took the field, his side reached out to the Yankees and union head Michael Weiner contacted MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred. The Yankees and MLB said they had no interest in such talks.

There was always the chance, however, that further negotiations could take place at the last minute.

‘‘I'll have an opportunity, when the time is right, to tell my full story,’’ Rodriguez said.


The New York Post, Daily News, and New York Times reported the discussions earlier Saturday.

Rodriguez, 38, hasn’t played in the majors this season. The three-time American League MVP is recovering from hip surgery and a strained quadriceps.

A day after Rodriguez homered for Trenton, Thunder manager Tony Franklin hedged on whether A-Rod was ready to rejoin the majors.

‘‘That’s not for me to say,’’ Franklin said. ‘‘His swing is getting better. He’s running better. He’s doing the baseball things OK right now. But that’s a different game up there.

“Once they decide he’s ready to go back, I don’t think he'll have any trouble adapting at all.’’

Rodriguez certainly had no trouble tracking balls, drawing three of his four walks on full-count pitches against Reading.

A high-and-tight fastball backed him off the plate in the seventh, and he turned and smiled, thankful the pitch didn’t hit him.

Rodriguez ran the bases, then left the game after the seventh.

‘‘I feel great,’’ Rodriguez said. ‘‘It was great to see a lot of pitches.’’

After Friday’s game Rodriguez indicated that he would fight any suspension through the appeals process, and said he was worried about attempts to “cancel” his contract, suggesting the Yankees and MLB would benefit from it and were therefore conspiring to do so.

Rodriguez is owed roughly $95 million through 2017, but he won’t get paid during any suspension.