a-rod doc

Updated: MLB investigating Alex Rodriguez’s link with new doctor

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A new player suddenly emerged in the bizarre Alex Rodriguez saga on Wednesday when Dr. Michael L. Gross and told Mike Francesa on WFAN that he had reviewed A-Rod’s MRI and detected no quad injury. In so doing, he contradicted the diagnosis of a Grade 1 quad strain from Yankees doctor Christopher Ahmad.

Reports have since indicated that Rodriguez gave the doctor permission to talk to the media, which has led some to believe that Rodriguez is trying to force the Yankees’ hands and get back into the lineup. Other reports have made it clear that Rodriguez needed Yankees approval to receive a second opinion and never got it, meaning he’s broken a rule from the CBA.

But Gross is a mystery in all this. From the New York Daily News:

According to a source with close knowledge of the situation, however, the Yankees have never heard of Gross, and do not believe Gross examined the same MRI looked at by Ahmad on Sunday after Rodriguez complained for the second straight week of quad tightness.

Further, said the source, New York Presbyterian Hospital did not release results from the MRI it conducted on Rodriguez and the Yankees do not believe he was examined by Gross.

If that’s the case, then perhaps A-Rod didn’t get an official second opinion and is in the clear, at least in that regards.

But what about Gross? He’s listed as a graduate of the New York University School of Medicine and as an orthopedic surgeon for Hackensack UMC. He’s also the the Co-Founder and Medical Director of the Active Center for Health & Wellness, located in Hackensack, New Jersey. According to its website, the top program offered by the place is “Anti-Aging & Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy.”

Gross’s own bio states that he’s “he is currently enrolled in a fellowship in anti-aging and restorative medicine and is working towards board certification form the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.” And the New York Daily News is now reporting that Gross was reprimanded by the New Jersey Attorney General earlier this year for “failing to adequately ensure proper patience treatment involving the prescribing of hormones, including steroids.”

The NYDN further goes on to say that MLB is already investigating A-Rod’s relationship with the doctor.

Gross says the reprimand was the result of an innocent mistake:

“One of the people who worked [at the Active Center for Health & Wellness] was a physician who completed medical school, who finished a residency, but he wasn’t a licensed physician in New Jersey. We never maintained that he was a physician, but in an unrelated investigation of a lot of wellness centers, the board came across that,” Gross said on SNY. “I met with the board. I received what you saw. It’s a closed matter. But it has nothing to do with Alex. I really don’t think it’s germane to this. (Rodriguez) has never been a patient here. He’s never been treated here. We don’t prescribe anabolic steroids. We never have. We prescribe what’s called bio-identical hormones, for men with low testosterone, like what you see on television all the time. We prescribe testosterone.”

MLB won’t like that much, either. One of the things Anthony Bosch was known to offer at Biogenesis were testosterone troches, which are lozenges that were placed under the tongue. Even if Rodriguez has never set foot in the Active Center for Health & Wellness, the association was a bad idea.

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Update: Yankees GM Brian Cashman has issued a statement on the Rodriguez situation. Here it is in full:

“I heard via a text message this afternoon from Alex Rodriguez that he had retained a doctor to review his medical situation. In media reports, we have since learned that the doctor in question has acknowledged that he did not examine Mr. Rodriguez and that he was not retained to do a comprehensive medical examination of Mr. Rodriguez. Contrary to the Basic Agreement, Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain.

“As you know, it is the Yankees’ desire to have Alex return to the lineup as soon as possible. And we have done everything to try and accomplish this.

“As early as Friday, July 12, when I suggested to Alex that we move his rehab from Tampa to Triple-A Scranton (at Buffalo), Alex complained for the first time of “tightness” in his quad and therefore refused to consent to the transfer of his assignment. Again, last Sunday, Alex advised that he had stiffness in his quad and should not play on Sunday or Monday. We sent Alex to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for an MRI which evidenced a Grade 1 strain.

“As always, we will follow the rules and regulations set forth in the Basic Agreement, and will again re-evaluate Alex in Tampa tomorrow, as our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so.”

Adams homers in 16th to lift Cardinals over Dodgers 4-3

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ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams homered in the 16th inning to lead the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night for St. Louis’ season-best fifth straight victory.

It was the second consecutive game that the Cardinals won in their final at-bat. They beat the Padres on Thursday after scoring a run in the ninth inning.

Adams homer came with one out off Bud Norris (5-9), who gave up six runs as a starter in an 8-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

Seth Maness (1-2) picked up the win with a scoreless inning of relief for St. Louis, which was playing its longest game of the season.

Jedd Gyorko hit a two-out homer off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to tie the game 3-3.

Justin Turner and Howie Kendrick homered for the Dodgers. Los Angeles has lost four of six. The red-hot Turner has seven homers and 17 RBI this month. He hit two homers in a 6-3 win over Washington on Thursday.

Turner blasted his career-high 18th homer of the season off Seung Hwan Oh in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie.

Corey Seager had four hits and drove in the first run of the game. He had hit in seven successive at-bats before flying out in the ninth.

Kendrick’s solo shot in the sixth tied the game 2-2. He has hit in 14 successive games trying Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the longest current streak in the majors.

Los Angeles starter Brandon McCarthy allowed one hit and two runs over 6 1-3 innings, the longest of his four starts this season. He left with leg cramps. McCarthy struck out four and walked three.

St. Louis starter Michael Wacha allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Dodgers reliever Adam Liberatore recorded his 28th successive scoreless outing by retiring two of four batters in the seventh. He has not allowed a run in 41 of 42 appearances this season.

Minor League Players’ Wage Suit against Major League Baseball suffers a huge setback

The judge's gavel is seen in court room 422 of the New York Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street February 3, 2012. REUTERS/Chip East
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A judge handed minor leaguers looking to hold Major League Baseball liable for underpaying and exploiting them a huge setback today, ruling that the case cannot go forward as a class action. Minor leaguers who want to sue over their pay and treatment still can, but they’ll have to do it individually. The ruling saps the minor leaguers of their leverage, as Major League Baseball would likely be able to fend off individual cases which, by themselves, might only amount to several thousand dollars per claim.

The background: in 2014, former Miami Marlins player Aaron Senne sued Major League Baseball, Bud Selig, and three major league clubs claiming that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. He was later joined by former Royals minor leaguer Michael Liberto and Giants farmhand Oliver Odle. Eventually others joined and the suit had been expanded to 22 teams as defendants.

The upshot of the case is that, while the minor league season lasts only part of the year, players are required to do all sorts of things outside of merely playing games for which they are not compensated. Training, meetings, appearances and the like. When all of that time is added up, the players claim, their already low salaries are effectively far below minimum wage in violation of the law. Major League Baseball has countered this by claiming that minor leaguers are basically part time seasonal workers — like landscapers and pool boys — who are not subject to federal labor laws.

Last year the judge gave the case conditional certification, allowing the players to try to establish that it should go forward as a class action. This would streamline the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective and give them the power of collective action by asserting hundreds or more similar cases into one proceeding. The judge’s ruling today, however, was that the cases really weren’t factually similar and thus collective action was not appropriate because figuring out how many hours each player worked and what was required of him varied too greatly among the players.

From his order:

“The difficulties associated with determining what activities constitute ‘work’ in the context of winter training are compounded by the fact that there appear to be no official records documenting these activities. Because it may be impossible to determine from official records the types of conditioning activities in which the players engaged, membership in the state classes based on winter training would depend largely upon the players’ ability to remember, with a reasonable amount of detail, what they did during the off-season (often for multiple years and for many, several years in the past) to stay fit.”

The judge said that, in light of this, each case would be unique and would require “individualized inquiries” to find damages and liability. That phrase –“individualized inquiries” — constitutes magic words which sink would-be class actions. If a company overcharges all of its customers by $8 due to an error repeated a million times, it’s easy to look at one set of facts and judge them together. If you had to look at a million different wrongs, that’s no class action. And so it is not a class action for the players.

As many courts who have dealt with these sorts of cases have noted, for many plaintiffs, a class action is the only practical method of adjudicating Fair Labor Standards Act cases because individual plaintiffs are frequently unable to bear the costs of separate trials. They are, by definition, (allegedly) exploited workers. They’re not going to be able to pay legal costs and fight off a multi-billion dollar business in order to collect the few thousand dollars they were underpaid. At the same time, however, the defendants have rights too and, if the facts of each players’ treatment truly differ (e.g. the Yankees make their minor leaguers do more than the Brewers do) it’s not fair to bind one defendant’s defense to the acts of another.

So, where does this leave the players? Not dead. Not yet, at least. Their claims have not been dismissed on the merits. They have only been denied the right to act collectively. The individual plaintiffs can now file separate lawsuits against their former employers and Major League Baseball under the same theories. It would be harder to land a big blow in such a scenario, but if enough do, it could end up being death by a thousand cuts for the clubs and the league. Their legal fees might go up and, eventually, if they lose enough of these cases, more might be filed. There are a lot of former minor leaguers, after all, and once there’s some blood in the water, more of them — and their lawyers — may enter the frenzy. Decertification is certainly a win for the league right now, but it’s not necessarily a permanent win.

There are likewise some other quasi-collective forms this case could take such as multi-district litigation in which the cases, while individual, are coordinated in a loose fashion. That could lead to some efficiencies for suing players even if it’s not as robust as a class action.

We’ve written quite a bit about minor league pay and treatment in this space by now, so you probably know where we stand on it. We believe that minor leaguers are exploited and underpaid and we believe that Major League Baseball has been happy to exploit and underpay them for some time. Ultimately we believe that this state of affairs cannot and will not persist and that eventually, somehow, baseball will either see fit to pay its workers fairly or, more likely, will be forced to do so by a court or by collective bargaining of some fashion.

Today, however, was a big setback for the minor leaguers. Today’s ruling will give Major League Baseball and its clubs more time and more comfort in which to underpay them. There’s no doubt about it.