NEW YORK — Looming playoffs could force an end to negotiations in baseball's latest drug scandal as pressure builds to impose penalties so stars can still make the postseason.
Monday appears to be the deadline for rehabilitating Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and 13 others to accept suspensions for their ties to the South Florida antiaging clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs. Though Rodriguez is expected to get a lengthy ban, a penalty starting that day would allow Texas All-Star OF Nelson Cruz to return for October.
Major League Baseball is ready to issue two simultaneous announcements no later than Monday, the Associated Press reported Thursday. One would list players who accepted suspensions, the other those disciplined without deals but who could challenge penalties before an arbitrator. Most players with clinic ties face 50-game bans.
But baseball is threatening to kick Rodriguez out for life unless he agrees to a long ban, perhaps 200 games. His handlers were far off from making a deal that would ensure he cashes in on at least some of the $100 million owed on his contract, ESPN reported.
Rodriguez appeared ready to talk Thursday as he left the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa, waving writers to his car in the parking lot and rolling down a window. But when he saw a second group with TV cameras approaching, he said: "I'll talk to you guys, but no cameras." He closed the window, waited a moment, then left.
Rodriguez (strained quad) played in a simulated game and hopes to return to the Yankees soon. He is to play today and Saturday at Double-A Trenton, positioning himself to rejoin New York on Monday if he's not banned.
Peavy ready: RHP Jake Peavy, traded from the last-place White Sox to the first-place Red Sox this week, said he wants to pitch in the postseason again, as he did with the Padres in 2005 and '06. "I couldn't ask for anything more than to come to a team in first place with a realistic chance … to play in the postseason," said Peavy, set to start Saturday against Arizona.
Lidge retires as Phillie: Brad Lidge, perfect as a closer during Philadelphia's 2008 World Series title season, formally retired as a Phillie. "That game and that postseason will forever stand out for me," Lidge said about striking out Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske in the World Series clincher after a 41-for-41 regular season. He last pitched in the majors in June 2012 for the Nationals. He had 225 career saves.
Nationals: GM Mike Rizzo signed a new contract and was given the title of president of baseball operations. No contract details were given.
Kidnapping reward: Former Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. announced a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the capture and conviction of the person who abducted his mother a year ago. Vi Ripken was taken from her Aberdeen, Md., home July 24, 2012, and returned unharmed 24 hours later. Ripken hopes the reward re-energizes the case.