Steven Marcus of Newsday reported over the weekend that Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of his 211-game suspension will begin this week, at least preliminarily, with a status conference. He tweets today, however, that A-Rod’s team is considering other options before sitting down for an arbitration with Major League Baseball:
This isn’t necessarily surprising. As we saw with the NFL bounty case, a person with little to lose — and given the length of A-Rod’s suspension he has little to lose — can possibly make some headway against his suspension by doing an end-run around league discipline and going to court. I’m not sure what sort of theory A-Rod could advance in court — maybe saying that Bud Selig violated the Collective Bargaining Agreement in leveling the discipline that he did — but it’s quite possible that this is a means of putting pressure on the league to come back to the table and try to negotiate a lighter suspension.
Meanwhile, the Yankees, thanks in part to Rodriguez, are still in the wild card hunt. Which has to be driving Selig absolutely nuts.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.