By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Already in trouble with Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez now faces a penalty from his own team.
The New York Yankees intend to discipline A-Rod for seeking a second medical opinion on his injured leg without their permission, a person familiar with the team’s deliberations said Thursday.
The exact penalty had not been determined, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because no statements were authorized. A fine appeared to be the most likely option.
The person also said that during a conference call Thursday, the Yankees and Rodriguez agreed to a timetable that would have the third baseman resume minor league rehabilitation games or simulated games next Thursday.
Rodriguez, who has been sidelined since hip surgery in January, issued a statement earlier in the day saying he wanted to be activated for Friday’s homestand opener against Tampa Bay. But that apparently wasn’t in the Yankees plans.
MLB has been investigating Rodriguez as part of its probe of the closed Biogenesis clinic in Florida , accused in media reports of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. A suspension appears likely, but Rodriguez could ask the players’ association to contest a drug penalty _ making it possible he might not have to serve any time until next year.
He is among the dozen or so players under investigation by MLB; he has said in the past that he used PEDs from 2001-03 while with Texas but maintained he has not used them since.
Rodriguez hasn’t played a game in the majors this season.
Meantime, his return from hip surgery in January has created more drama than most players experience in their entire careers.
Seemingly days away from rejoining the Yankees, Rodriguez injured his left quadriceps last weekend and was sent to New York for an MRI on Sunday. Team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad diagnosed a grade 1 strain, the least severe level.
Dr. Michael Gross, the orthopedic director of The Sports Medicine Institute at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center, was retained by Rodriguez and said on radio station WFAN on Wednesday that he examined an MRI and could not detect an injury. Gross also said he never examined Rodriguez personally.
Under baseball’s labor contract, a player must notify his team in writing if he intends to seek a second medical opinion.
The person who spoke on condition of anonymity said Rodriguez was examined Thursday by Dr. Daniel Murphy, the Yankees’ orthopedic surgeon in Tampa, Fla., who confirmed Ahmad’s diagnosis. The person said Murphy determined Rodriguez had made great improvement in the last few days and could be on an accelerated rehab schedule.
Yankees President Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman were on the 15-minute conference call along with Tim Lentych, the head athletic trainer at the player development complex in Tampa. Rodriguez also was on the call and was represented by Jordan Siev, co-head of the U.S. commercial litigation group at Reed Smith, a law firm used by A-Rod pal Jay-Z.
The person said the sides went through a day-by-day protocol for Rodriguez’s rehab.
Siev did not return a telephone call seeking comment, and Rodriguez did not speak with reporters at the team’s minor league complex in Tampa.
Earlier Thursday, Rodriguez said he was ready to rejoin the Yankees.
“I think the Yanks and I crossed signals,” the three-time AL MVP said in a statement issued by spokesman Ron Berkowitz. “I don’t want any more mixups. I’m excited and ready to play and help this team win a championship. I feel great and I’m ready and want to be in the lineup Friday night. Enough doctors, let’s play.”
Rodriguez, who turns 38 Saturday, earns $153,005 each day during the season from his $28 million salary, and while he remains on the disabled list much of the money is covered by insurance.
Rodriguez has hit .250 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games. About a week before he began the injury rehab assignment on July 2, Rodriguez tweeted that the surgeon who operated on his hip “gave me the best news – the green light to play games again!”
In most instances, teams make those determinations, and Cashman memorably said, “Alex should just shut the … up.”
If Rodriguez is healthy, New York could use his bat. Yankees third basemen began Thursday hitting .217, ahead of only Cleveland, according to STATS. Their four homers are more than only Miami and their 29 RBIs are 28th in the majors.
Gross, was reprimanded this year by New Jersey’s board of medical examiners over steroid prescriptions, fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs.
Associated Press Writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Fla., contributed to this report.
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