Levine said he didn’t conspire against A-Rod
Yankees President Randy Levine testified at Alex Rodriguez’s grievance hearing Tuesday and denied conspiring with Major League Baseball on the 211-game suspension given to the New York third baseman last summer.
On the 10th day of the hearing, which started in September, Levine was asked a series of questions by Rodriguez lawyer Joseph Tacopina, according to a person with knowledge of the proceeding. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are confidential.
The person said Levine testified for 10-15 minutes and denied having any personal gain from Rodriguez’s suspension or the Yankees falling under the luxury tax threshold; and of having an agreement to receive a commission of any money the team saved because of the ban.
Levine also denied discussing Rodriguez’s discipline with Major League Baseball or Commissioner Bud Selig; and telling Rodriguez surgeon Dr. Bryan Kelly or anyone else that he wanted the player off the field, the person said.
The person also said Levine testified he may have jokingly used the phrase “is he off the juice?” when talking with Rodriguez about other players who weren’t performing. Levine testified he had no exact recollection.
The hearing resumed Monday before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who also heard the case from Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and Oct. 15-18.
Howard Gans, a lawyer for MLB, said in papers filed in federal court that Horowitz will hear the case daily through Nov. 26 rather than the original plan to recess after Friday and resume Dec. 16.
MLB said U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in Manhattan issued an order Tuesday compelling Michael Sitrick, head of the public relations firm Sitrick & Co., to comply with a Sept. 19 subpoena issued by Horowitz to appear at the arbitration and to provide documents. Sitrick & Co. worked on Rodriguez’s behalf earlier this year.
In papers filed in New York Supreme Court on Oct. 29, MLB alleged Sitrick & Co. had provided records from Bosch to Yahoo Sports, which published a story Feb. 5 saying the name of 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun appeared in records of Biogenesis of America, the Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB said in the court papers it believed the documents had been “provided to Sitrick & Co. by Rodriguez or others acting on his behalf.” Miami New Times had reported Jan. 29 that Rodriguez bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances from Biogenesis during 2009-12.
Sitrick’s lawyers, who had the matter removed to federal court, did not respond to an email seeking comment on Ramos’ order, which MLB said was read from the bench.
Braun agreed July 22 to a season-ending 65-game suspension. Rodriguez was suspended on Aug. 5 for alleged violations of the sport’s drug agreement and labor contract, and the players’ union filed the grievance to overturn the penalty. It remains unclear whether Rodriguez will testify; he continued to play while contesting the penalty.
The three-time AL MVP said four years ago he used PEDs while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, but has denied using them since. At the time of his suspension, MLB said the penalty was for “use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years” and for “engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner’s investigation.”