— NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez certainly leads the New York Yankees in headlines this season even though he hasn't played a single major league game.
Injuries have kept him away from the team since last year's playoffs, and now Rodriguez faces discipline from Major League Baseball in its drug investigation, possibly up to a lifetime ban.
"The likelihood of a severe punishment for Rodriguez is very high," former Commissioner Fay Vincent said Wednesday.
The three-time AL MVP who turns 38 Saturday is among more than a dozen players MLB has targeted following allegations they were linked to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
After Ryan Braun's agreement to accept a 65-game suspension earlier this week, attention has turned to Rodriguez, who four years ago admitted using PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03. He has repeatedly denied using them since, and MLB has never said he failed a test.
Lawyers for MLB and the players' association were set to resume discussions about the Biogenesis investigation Thursday. Though it was unclear who might be penalized next, all eyes were on A-Rod.
The Yankees expect Rodriguez to be accused of using PEDs over multiple seasons, of recruiting other athletes for the clinic, of attempting to obstruct MLB's investigation, and of not being truthful with MLB in the past when he discussed his relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, who pleaded guilty two years ago to a federal charge of bringing unapproved drugs into the United States from Canada.
"The mess seems very large indeed," said John Thorn, baseball's official historian. "If a lifetime suspension is being brooded about and a plea bargain would involve something lesser but still very substantial, that's a whole bucket of tar dumped on his legacy."