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August 3, 2013

Blue Monday looms for Major League Baseball

NEW YORK — Pressure to get suspensions over with before the playoffs could force an end to negotiations in baseball’s latest drug scandal.

Monday appears to be the deadline for Alex Rodriguez and 13 others to accept suspensions for their ties to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. While A-Rod is expected to get a lengthy ban, a penalty starting that day would allow Texas All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz to return for October.

Major League Baseball is prepared to issue two simultaneous announcements no later than Monday, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press on Thursday. One would list players who accept suspensions; the other would name those disciplined without deals, but who could challenge penalties before an arbitrator.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

Most players face 50-game suspensions for their links to the now-closed Florida clinic, which has been accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.

But baseball is threatening to kick Rodriguez out for life unless the three-time AL MVP agrees to a long ban, perhaps around 200 games.

Rodriguez appeared ready to talk Thursday as he was leaving the team’s minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., waving a group of writers to his car in the parking lot and rolling down the window. However, when he saw a second group with TV cameras approaching, he said: “I’ll talk to you guys, but no cameras.”

Rodriguez closed the window and waited a moment, then left without saying another word.

Baseball’s highest-paid player with a $28 million salary, Rodriguez played in a simulated game and saw 31 pitches over six at-bats, played third and ran bases.

The Yankees expect A-Rod to be accused of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, attempting to obstruct MLB’s investigation, and not being truthful with MLB in the past.

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