A-Rod can expect support from one ally in milestone fight

Written By kom nampuldu on Kamis, 12 Februari 2015 | 18.18

TAMPA — Alex Rodriguez's Apology Tour has made two stops so far, to MLB headquarters in midtown and Yankee Stadium, where Rodriguez expressed regret about his role in the Biogenesis scandal.

And it may continue, if he feels the need to explain himself to his teammates or the public.

Apologies, though, likely won't matter much if Rodriguez chooses to fight to keep the milestone bonuses that were added to the 10-year, $275 contract he signed after he opted out following the 2007 season.

But even if he chooses to let those bonuses go in an act of good faith — or to save himself what figures to be another public-relations mess — the Players Association might not let him, according to a sports law expert.

"The baseball players' union never really allows reductions in salaries or bonuses," said Robert Boland, professor of sports business at NYU. "And regardless of what they might think of Rodriguez, I'm sure they don't want to set a precedent like this — not necessarily for Rodriguez, but for what it would mean for other clauses in other contracts down the road."

A ruling in the Yankees' favor could result in teams looking for outs in similar situations, although Rodriguez has proven time and again that he is consistently a unique case study.

Sources close to the union have said it intends to fully support Rodriguez despite the fact he sued the MLBPA while appealing his suspension. Industry sources have said the Yankees, meanwhile, could argue his most recent admission to using performance-enhancing drugs makes those milestones meaningless.

"If it goes to arbitration, the Yankees might argue that there was fraud, in that he was using PEDs while on his way to these records," Boland said. "The two sides could argue forever."

Rodriguez already has become a topic of discussion with the Yankees over a week before pitchers and catchers are due to report for spring training. Though he already has attempted to settle his differences with the Yankees and new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, questions about his impact and presence will remain when he gets to camp.

His teammates continue to back him. Dellin Betances said Wednesday he doesn't believe another Rodriguez apology is necessary.

"Not for me," Betances said at the team's minor league complex. "I don't know how the other guys feel, but for me he doesn't need to apologize. He didn't do anything to me."

Neither Betances nor Michael Pineda were very familiar with Rodriguez's attempts to normalize relations with his bosses, but Betances supported the attempt.

"I'm sure for him, if that's what he needed to do to feel good, then it's a good step for us," Betances said. "I just want to see him play again. I'm excited to see him play."

Pineda, whose injuries have helped prevent him from playing with Rodriguez in The Bronx, is more interested in making sure he is able to stay on the field than anything Rodriguez does.

"My focus is on coming here and working hard every day," Pineda said. "I've never played together with him, but I've met him and he's been nice."

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