A-Rod's hearing to begin Sept. 30

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension is scheduled to begin Sept. 30, the day after the regular season ends, if the Yankees don't make the playoffs, a source told ESPNNewYork.com Friday.

Because Rodriguez has the right to be present for the hearings in front of arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, the process could be postponed if the Yankees still are playing. The team entered Friday night 2½ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second wild card in the American League.

A source said the hearings are expected to take place in New York. An announcement on whether Rodriguez's suspension -- stemming from the Biogenesis and performing-enhancing drug scandal -- is reduced is not expected until after the World Series.

Newsday first reported the Sept. 30 date for Rodriguez's hearing to begin.

The timing of Horowitz's decision could have an impact on the Yankees' offseason plans. Team owner Hal Steinbrenner has made it a goal to drop the Yankees' payroll under $189 million to take advantage of revenue sharing and luxury tax benefits from the current collective bargaining agreement.

Rodriguez, 38, is due to make $25 million next season. He is also in line to collect a $6 million bonus if he ties Willie Mays for fourth all time on the home run list. He entered Friday nine shy of Mays, with 651 career homers.

The Yankees could go into the winter not knowing how much of Rodriguez's $25 million will count toward their payroll. During a suspension, he would not be paid, and the money would not count toward the Yankees' payroll. Each game he is suspended is worth roughly $154,000.

Since Rodriguez returned from offseason hip surgery, he has been hitting .283 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 99 at-bats entering Friday night.

The public backbiting among Rodriguez, Major League Baseball and the Yankees has dissipated the past couple of weeks after the third baseman told his lawyers that he wanted to quiet the noise and focus on the playoff push.

Lawyers for both sides continue to work through the discovery phase leading up to the hearing.

The day the suspension was announced, commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement that he made his decision because of "use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years."

Selig also said that in addition, Rodriguez's penalty was "for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."

Rodriguez's lawyers have vowed that they will fight the charges and there will be no settlement.