Wednesday's roundup: A-Rod admitted PED use

Curt Anderson
Associated Press

Miami — A lawyer for the University of Miami's former pitching coach said Wednesday that Alex Rodriguez admitted to federal investigators he used steroids supplied by the owner of a now-closed South Florida clinic.

Attorney Frank Quintero Jr., who represents Lazaro "Laser" Collazo in his defense against charges of conspiracy to distribute performance-enhancing drugs, told The Associated Press that the New York Yankees third baseman confessed to steroids use, according to Drug Enforcement Administration documents provided by the government to defense lawyers.

The Miami Herald first reported Rodriguez's admission Wednesday, saying he met with DEA agents on Jan. 29 at the agency's South Florida field office. Given a grant of immunity from prosecution, Rodriguez told investigators he did use banned substances between late 2010 and October 2012 supplied by Anthony Bosch, who owned the Biogenesis of America clinic in Coral Gables.

Rodriguez has publicly denied any use of banned substances during his time with the Yankees, which began in 2004.

The three-time AL MVP acknowledged in 2009 that he using performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games in August 2013 for violations of the sport's drug agreement and labor contract, and the penalty was cut to the 2014 season in January by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz.

Rodriguez proclaimed his innocence and sued in federal court, then withdrew the suit and accepted the penalty.

The Herald reported Bosch told the DEA that A-Rod agreed to pay for steroids for 20 Biogenesis customers after the clinic closed to keep Bosch from talking about his involvement. That could prompt MLB to investigate whether Rodriguez could be suspended again under the sport's drug agreement for violations related to the sale and distribution of PEDs, which are separate from the prohibitions on personal use.

An attorney for Rodriguez did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment. The Yankees declined comment.

The DEA report is among the evidence federal prosecutors have assembled against Rodriguez cousin Yuri Sucart, Collazo and others accused of supplying testosterone and human growth hormone to MLB players and other athletes linked to Biogenesis.

Quintero told the AP he has a copy but cannot release it under federal evidence rules.

"I can for your report confirm that the report by the Herald is accurate as to what Rodriguez said," Quintero said in an email. "I don't have a dog in this fight. My client has no involvement with ANY major league players concerning the use of banned substances."

Neither the DEA nor the Miami U.S. Attorney's office commented. However, in a separate public court filing, prosecutors made clear Rodriguez would be a star witness if the case against Sucart and the others goes to trial. It is currently set to begin Feb. 9 in Miami federal court.

"Rodriguez has a prominent role in the government's proof of the … conspiracies to distribute testosterone and human growth hormone," the prosecutors wrote.

In addition to A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli, Yasmani Grandal, Cesar Puello and Jordany Valdespin have been granted immunity by the federal government, the Herald reported

In their filing, prosecutors said Rodriguez paid Sucart $900,000 and provided him and his family with medical insurance, a vehicle and a house in return for Sucart's silence regarding Rodriguez's use of banned substances.

According to the Herald, the DEA report goes into great detail about how Rodriguez paid Bosch for testosterone cream and lozenges known as "gummies" and human growth hormone injections into the player's stomach. Bosch has pleaded guilty in the case and is cooperating in the prosecution of the other men.

"Rodriguez said Bosch told him the HGH would help with sleep, weight, hair growth, eyesight and muscle recovery," the newspaper quoted the DEA report as saying. Bosch also gave Rodriguez tips on how to avoid detection in MLB drug tests.

Rodriguez told agents it was Sucart who introduced him in 2010 to Bosch, who falsely posed as a physician nicknamed "Dr. T." Rodriguez paid mainly in cash and Bosch promised secrecy, although he would eventually begin to cooperate with MLB and federal investigators.

In the DEA report, the Herald said Rodriguez admitted he also helped pay for Bosch's criminal defense, including $25,000 as a down payment to retain one attorney.

In total, 14 MLB players were suspended last year following the sport's Biogenesis investigation. None have been charged with crimes.

Rodriguez, who turns 40 next summer, played in just 44 games last year and hit seven home runs to increase his total to 654, fifth on the career list.

He is owed $61 million for the final three years of his contract with the Yankees. He could receive an additional $6 million each for five milestones that the team designates as historic achievements.

Marlins engage Stanton

Contract talks have started between Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins, who are prepared to offer a multiyear deal that would be a big departure for the historically thrifty franchise.

President of baseball operations Mike Hill declined to say whether the Marlins have made an offer, but they've begun discussions with agent Joel Wolfe regarding an agreement with the All-Star right fielder.

"Negotiations are ongoing," Hill said Wednesday. "We're hopeful we'll be able to make him a Marlin for many years to come."

Even if Stanton rejects the Marlins' offer, he's expected to play for Miami next year, and doesn't become a free agent until after the 2016 season.

Stanton recently won the NL Hank Aaron Award and was voted the NL's outstanding player in balloting by his fellow major leaguers. He's a top candidate for the NL Most Valuable Player Award.

"He's the MVP in my eyes," Hill said. "There are probably some things that will impact our negotiations that still need to be determined. But we reached out and let his representative know we're ready to engage."

Stanton's season ended Sept. 11 when he was hit in the face by a pitch. Despite missing the final 17 games, he led the NL with 37 homers and a .555 slugging percentage for the Marlins, who went 77-85 but ended a three-year streak of last-place finishes in the NL East.

Stanton has 154 career homers at age 24 and is part of a talented young Marlins roster.

Angels trade Conger to Astros

The Astros have acquired catcher Hank Conger in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels got right-hander Nick Tropeano and minor league catcher Carlos Perez in the deal Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Conger played 80 games with 70 starts last season for the Angels. A first-round pick in 2006, Conger hit .221 with four homers and a career-high 25 RBIs. Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said: "We scouted him extensively this year as a divisional opponent and feel he brings a unique skill set to our organization."

Tropeano went 1-3 with a 4.57 ERA in four games for Houston in 2014. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was 9-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 23 games.

Perez spent last season in Triple A, hitting .259 with six homers and 34 RBIs.

Halsey dies in accident

Former major league pitcher Brad Halsey has died in a recreational climbing accident. He was 33.

Police in Comal County said an investigation was still ongoing into Friday's accident in the Texas Hill Country area. The Lux Funeral Home said services were pending.

Halsey went 14-19 in 88 games with the New York Yankees, Arizona and Oakland from 2004-06. The left-hander most recently pitched in the minors for the Yankees in 2011. In 2004, Halsey dueled Boston ace Pedro Martinez into the middle innings in a game highlighted by Derek Jeter's diving catch into the stands at Yankee Stadium.

In 2006, Halsey gave up Barry Bonds' 714th home run, tying Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Halsey later joked about the specially marked balls for Bonds' at-bats.

"They just have a B and a number on them, and a picture of Barry, too. If you look into his eye, he winks at you," Halsey said.

Around the horn

Free-agent pitcher Troy Patton has been suspended for 80 games following a positive test for an amphetamine under Major League Baseball's drug program.

... Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner had surgery to repair a core muscle injury in his right abdomen.

... Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli underwent surgery to correct his sleep apnea.

... Rangers career hits leader Michael Young has been appointed as a special assistant to the GM.