Controversial Yankees star Alex Rodriguez ended his extended and acrimonious fight with Major League Baseball on Friday, withdrawing a pair of lawsuits and accepting his season-long suspension that marks the longest penalty in the sport’s history related to performance-enhancing drugs.
The decision came nearly four weeks after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz issued his decision largely upholding the penalty issued to the Yankees third baseman last summer by baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Rodriguez had repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and sued MLB and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association in federal court in Manhattan to overturn the penalty.
But 27 days after Horowitz’s decision, the three-time AL MVP withdrew the lawsuit and a previous action filed in October claiming MLB and Selig were engaged in a ‘‘witch hunt’’ against him. Rodriguez became the 14th to accept a suspension following baseball’s investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic.
‘‘I think it’s a good move for him,’’ former commissioner Fay Vincent said. ‘‘A-Rod had no chance legally, and the commissioner got his authority validated.’’
MLB issued a low-key statement calling the decision to end the litigation ‘‘prudent.’’
‘‘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,’’ the sport said. ‘‘We share that desire.’’
Rodriguez had angered many of his fellow players by suing his own union in an attempt to avoid a suspension.
‘‘Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit,’’ the union said in a statement. ‘‘His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.’’
After Horowitz issued his decision on Jan. 11, Rodriguez put out a defiant statement proclaiming ‘‘no player should have to go through what I have been dealing with’’ and promising ‘‘I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected.’’
But a few hours after the Diamondbacks became the first team to start spring training workouts, and with the Yankees a week from opening camp, Rodriguez folded quietly.
‘‘We stand by the statements issued and have no further comment,’’ Rodriguez spokesman Ron Berkowitz said.
Joseph Tacopina, one of Rodriguez’s lawyers, said the slugger no longer intends to report to the Yankees’ training camp in Tampa. Suspensions only cover regular-season games and the postseason, with exhibitions specifically exempted.
Rodriguez will lose most of his $25 million salary — Horowitz ruled he is entitled to $2,868,852.46.
The timing of Rodriguez’s decision was set in motion by US District Judge Edgardo Ramos, who on Jan. 30 told the player’s lawyers to respond by Friday to arguments from MLB and the union that the case should be dismissed.
While Rodriguez dropped his lawsuits, Tacopina filed one of his own. He sued the New York Daily News, two of its reporters, and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik for defamation.
Tacopina said in a complaint filed Wednesday in US District Court in Manhattan that reporters Nathaniel Vinton and Michael O'Keefe ‘‘engineered’’ the filing of a disciplinary complaint by Kerik, a former client of Tacopina’s, ‘‘so that they could publish a negative article about Tacopina’’ in December.
Daily News Assistant General Counsel Matthew Leish said in a statement Friday that ‘‘the claims are completely without merit and the allegation that the Daily News’ reporters were involved in some sort of conspiracy is simply absurd. We will file our response in due course.’’
A’s extend Crisp
Center fielder Coco Crisp is staying with the Athletics for an additional two seasons, agreeing to a new contract through 2016 that adds $22.75 million in guaranteed money. The deal includes a 2017 option that could become guaranteed, the team said. Crisp, who has also played for the Indians, Red Sox and Royals, hit a career-high 22 home runs last year. The 34-year-old hasn’t played more than 136 games in a season in his four years with Oakland . . . The Diamondbacks and pitcher Bronson Arroyo agreed on a two-year, $23.5 million contract with a club option for a third year. The righthander, who turns 37 in two weeks, was 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA for the Reds last season. Arroyo, who also pitched for Pittsburgh and the Red Sox, was a workhorse for the Reds, starting no fewer than 32 games in each of his eight seasons with the team.
Brewers ink K-Rod
The Brewers signed free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year contract worth $3.25 million. Rodriguez’s 62 saves with the Angels in 2008 are a season record and his 304 career saves are tied for 21st all-time . . . Pitcher Andrew Cashner and the Padres argued their cases at baseball’s first salary arbitration hearing in two years. The 27-year-old Cashner asked for a raise from $500,800 to $2.4 million. Also entering arbitration was Indians pitcher Vinnie Pestano. The 29-year-old reliever asked for a raise from $501,900 to $1.45 million. Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley and righthanders Justin Masterson and Josh Tomlin also had hearings scheduled. Last year was the first time all cases settled without any hearings . . . Reliever Mitchell Boggs and the White Sox agreed to a $1.1 million, one-year deal. The 29-year old was the closer for the Cardinals to start 2013, but was traded to the Rockies after blowing three of five save chances.