<
>

A-Rod lawyers blocked from presser

NEW YORK -- The bickering between Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball takes no recess.

The appeal of Rodriguez's 211-game suspension by MLB is on hiatus for a month, but that did not stop his attorneys from calling a news briefing in their midtown office Monday afternoon -- and then abruptly calling it off after receiving an order from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz not to speak to the media.

"I've been involved in federal trials that don't have the cloak of secrecy that this one does," said Joe Tacopina, Rodriguez's lead attorney.

Tacopina called for the hearing, which is bound by a confidentiality agreement stipulated by baseball's collective bargaining agreement, to be opened to the media and public when it resumes with the defense presentation Nov. 18.

"We're not asking them to rewrite the book," Tacopina said. "But it seems there's been selective leaks, and it's just not fair. We would prefer this hearing was open to the press. All we want is for the truth to come out."

Tacopina said he wanted the testimony of Rob Manfred, baseball's chief operating officer, who was the last witness called, to be made public.

"It's frustrating for us," Tacopina said.

The reason for the news briefing, according to A-Rod's lawyers, was to release "a 100-plus page presentation" of allegations from a person they described as a "whistle-blower from inside MLB." The lawyers would not say precisely who the "whistle-blower" worked for within Major League Baseball, or whether he or she worked for one of its teams or some other affiliate.

The briefing was called for 5 p.m. ET, but according to the lawyers, the order from Horowitz to "refrain from conducting a press conference or briefing" was received at the Lexington Avenue office of the law firm of Reed Smith at 5:05 p.m. The start of the conference was delayed another hour by the late arrival of Tacopina, and when it finally began, reporters were forbidden to record the proceedings.

"We're not prepared to ignore an order from the arbitration panel," said Jim McCarroll, a member of Rodriguez's legal team.

Rodriguez's team was miffed by a story over the weekend alleging A-Rod had paid $305,000 to buy evidence with the intention of suppressing it from baseball's investigators.

According to Tacopina, Rodriguez paid "zero" for any documents.

"We sit here and try to comply with the order," Tacopina said. "We don't want to try this thing in the press."

As a result of Horowitz's order -- which was not a legal document, merely a restating of the CBA's confidentiality agreement -- Rodriguez's legal team would answer no questions regarding the progress so far of the hearing, which recessed Friday after eight days of testimony.

"We think the arbitrator issued an appropriate ruling consistent with the confidentiality provision of the basic agreement," a spokesman for MLB said in a statement issued Monday night. "The fact that they canceled the briefing shows that we were right in asking that they stop publicly commenting about this matter while we are in the midst of an arbitration hearing."

Baseball wrapped up its case with Manfred's testimony; Rodriguez's side will begin its presentation when the proceeding resumes next month. According to Tacopina, it will take "at least a week" for A-Rod's side to present its case, which would push the hearing nearly to the start of December, after which Horowitz has 25 days to render his decision.

The only real news to come out of Monday's session was the announcement of the addition of yet another high-powered attorney, Lanny Davis, to Rodriguez's team. Davis, who served as a White House special counsel to former President Bill Clinton, said he has been acting as an adviser to the legal team for the past six weeks.

"Due process and fairness and equal-handedness has been a concern of mine since I started practicing law 40 years ago," Davis said.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.