NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez gets to start arguing his case Monday.
In a hearing room before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, lawyers for the New York Yankees third baseman will argue why the 211-game suspension imposed by Major League Baseball on Aug. 5 should be overturned.
"Obviously this is going to be a grueling process all the way through," Rodriguez said. "This has been a burden. It's been a big burden. So let's get it on."
A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez is fourth on the career home run list with 654. The Major League Baseball Players Association says the penalty imposed by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig is excessive. Unless there is a settlement, a decision isn't expected until the winter.
A veteran of baseball salary arbitration, the 64-year-old Horowitz took over as the sport's grievance arbitrator in June 2012 from Shyam Das, fired a month earlier by management after almost 13 years. Das had overturned a 50-game suspension of Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun in February after the players' association argued the urine sample was not handled properly.
In Horowitz's only decision thus far, he upheld a 100-game suspension imposed last year on San Francisco reliever Guillermo Mota for a second positive test. He has initially set aside Monday through Friday for the hearing, where each side can introduce evidence, present witnesses and cross-examine them.
After the hearing days conclude, the sides will be given several weeks to submit final briefs. Horowitz will then take time to make his decision. While technically chairman of a three-person panel, Horowitz is the independent member joined by one representative of each side.
Rodriguez has four law firms working for him, with team A-Rod including Joseph Tacopina of Tacopina Seigel & Turano (known for taking cases with a high media-profile); David Cornwell of Atlanta-based Gordon & Rees (who worked on Braun's case); Jordan Siev, co-head of the U.S. commercial litigation group at Reed Smith (a firm used by Rodriguez pal Jay-Z); and Bruce Simon of Cohen, Weiss & Simon (who represented MLB umpires in 1999).
Earlier this year, Rodriguez retained and then terminated two other firms.
Yet, for all the outside legal help, much of the case will be presented by 55-year-old David Prouty, a Harvard Law School graduate hired by the players' association in 2008 from UNITE HERE, which represents employees in the hotel, gaming and food service industries. Prouty was promoted to MLBPA general counsel in February, when union head Michael Weiner gave up that role a half-year after he made public he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.