By RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ The Yankees will make alternative plans for third base if Alex Rodriguez’s grievance hearing isn’t decided soon.
The players’ association is trying to overturn a 211-game suspension given to the third baseman by Major League Baseball on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of baseball’s drug program and labor contract. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has presided over eight days of hearings, which are scheduled to resume Nov. 18.
It’s unclear whether the hearings will finish that week. Once testimony is complete, lawyers for both sides will need time to file briefs, and Horowitz is expected to take several weeks to make his decision.
“It’s important that we know, because if we’re not going to have him we need to fill that void,” Girardi said Thursday. “It causes us to think a lot about: Do we need a third baseman or do we not need a third baseman? So, hopefully, we’ll know sooner than later.”
The 38-year-old Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, missed most of last season following his second major hip operation. He returned the day his suspension was announced and hit .244 _ his lowest average since 1995 _ with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 156 at-bats.
Kevin Youkilis, signed to replace Rodriguez at third after the hip injury was diagnosed, had his own health problems. A bad back limited Youkilis to 105 at-bats, and he didn’t play at all after June 13. He is among the 13 Yankees who became free agents last week.
Girardi was at Yankee Stadium along with retired pitcher David Cone helping the United Service Organizations prepare about 5,000 “Comfort Packs” to be send to U.S. military who will be away from home during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
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