Michael Weiner, the plain-speaking, ever-positive labor lawyer who took over as head of the powerful baseball players’ union four years ago and smoothed its perennially contentious relationship with management, died Thursday, 15 months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was 51.
The Major League Baseball Players Association said Weiner died at his home in Mansfield Township, N.J.
‘‘Michael Weiner worked even thru his sickness. He didn’t look at it as an excuse to quit,’’ tweeted Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, the NL MVP. ‘‘He never gave up on us even when at his worst.’’
As Weiner’s health deteriorated this summer, a succession plan was put in place. Former big league All-Star Tony Clark took over Thursday as acting executive director and is to be approved as Weiner’s successor when the union’s board meets from Dec. 2-5 at La Jolla, Calif.
Weiner was hired by the union as a staff attorney in 1988 and succeeded Donald Fehr in December 2009. For full obituary, click here.
Alex Rodriguez’s grievance hearing to overturn his 211-game suspension ended when both sides rested their cases, a day after the Yankees third baseman angrily walked out and decided not to testify in his own defense.
The sides set a schedule to file briefs next month, which will close the record and submit the matter to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.
His decision on whether to uphold or alter the discipline for the three-time AL MVP likely will be made in January, a person familiar with the proceedings told The Associated Press.
Rodriguez’s lawyers already are vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court, where judges usually are reticent to overturn an arbitration decision unless there is a finding the arbitrator was biased, exceeded his authority, or failed to comply with the rules agreed to by the parties.
Rodriguez left in the middle of the 11th session Wednesday, furious the arbitrator refused to order commissioner Bud Selig to testify. Rodriguez and his lawyers then went on radio and television, accusing Selig of bias and the entire arbitration process of being flawed.
Also, former Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera said he believes Rodriguez is innocent. ‘‘If he tells me something, I'm going to believe him. Definitely,’’ Rivera said. ‘‘But again, that’s me. He’s my friend, and if he tells me something I’m going to believe him.’’
Royals snag Vargas
The Royals agreed to a $32 million, four-year contract with lefthander Jason Vargas, trying to fill the void in their rotation created by Ervin Santana’s free agency. Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts for the Angels last season. The 31-year-old Vargas was 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA before going on the disabled list in June with a blood clot in his arm that required surgery . . . The Tigers agreed to a non-guaranteed, $1.9 million, one-year contract with lefthanded reliever Phil Coke. Coke was 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 49 games this year for the Tigers . . . Lefthanded reliever Javier Lopez reached agreement on a $13 million, three-year contract to stay with the Giants . . . Carlos Ruiz and the Phillies have completed their $26 million, three-year contract after an agreement was announced on Monday.
A new start
Prince Fielder could have vetoed the blockbuster trade that sent him to the Rangers less than two years after signing with Detroit. The slugging first baseman decided to take the fresh start with a new team. ‘‘Obviously, it’s another good team,’’ Fielder said, a day after being sent to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler. ‘‘I didn’t think it was going to be a bad thing and plus, most of all, I thought it was going to be good for everyone.’’ The Rangers plan to formally introduce Fielder on Monday . . . Yu Darvish is expected to work out in Texas for a few more days before returning to Japan after an MRI indicated inflammation from nerve irritation in the his lower back has subsided. Darvish pitched through the problem the final six weeks of the season. Darvish went 13-9 with a 2.93 ERA in 32 starts with a majors-best 277 strikeouts.