A-Rod grievance process started

BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez's lawyers contacted the Major League Baseball Players Association earlier this month to formally begin the grievance process into claims that the New York Yankees have mishandled his medical treatment since last October's playoffs, sources familiar with the communications between the two parties told ESPNNewYork.com.

One of Rodriguez's attorneys, Joe Tapocina, alleged on Saturday that the Yankees put Rodriguez on the field during the playoffs even though they knew he was playing with a bad hip.

Rodriguez's side also contends that Yankees president Randy Levine told the surgeon who performed Rodriguez's offseason hip operation that if Rodriguez never saw the field again Levine would be fine with it.

Lastly, there is the contention from last month that the Yankees refused to let Rodriguez play because of what they diagnosed as a Grade 1 quad strain. A-Rod declared he was healthy enough to play.

Levine and the Yankees have denied all the allegations.

Rodriguez's attorneys contacted the players' association via a phone call within the last two weeks, sources said. Notifying the union is the first step that could eventually lead to a formal grievance between the Yankees and Rodriguez in front of MLB arbitrator Frederic Horowitz.

Horowitz is already set to hear Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension for violating MLB's joint drug agreement and collective bargaining agreement. That arbitration is not expected to conclude until November, at the earliest.

Disagreements between clubs and players are brought to the union's attention regularly, but generally are kept private. There are four main steps in the process. The player and/or his representatives contact the players' association about their disagreement with the club. The union does its own research before contacting MLB officials. MLB and the union work with the club and player involved to figure out a settlement to avoid a hearing. If the two sides can't mediate the matter themselves, it is brought in front of Horowitz to decide.

An MLB spokesman said no one at the league office has officially been contacted by the union about Rodriguez's claims. The Yankees also have not been told about the grievance process beginning. A union spokesman said, as a practice, the players' association does not discuss when it is notified about disagreements between a team and a player.

A-Rod's side contends that, in its opinion, the poor medical treatment of the third baseman shows a pattern of behavior by the Yankees to try and escape from as much of the final four years remaining on his $275 million contract they can. They feel that the "arbitrary," in their mind, length of Rodriguez's performance-enhancing drug punishment shows that MLB and the Yankees are conspiring, singling out A-Rod to try to strip as much of him contract from him as they can. MLB denies the accusations.

If the 211-game suspension is upheld, Rodriguez would lose nearly $33 million. For every game that Rodriguez's penalty is reduced, A-Rod would save $154,000.

Rodriguez's side has heard the Yankees and MLB say that he has not provided any evidence that he did not use performance-enhancing drugs, but they point out they are honoring the joint drug agreement.

Page 19, Article V of the JDA states that all parties "are prohibited from publicly disclosing information about an individual's Player's test results or testing history."

If Rodriguez publicly stated his case, then there is a fear from his side that the Yankees and/or MLB could use it against them in future hearings.