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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

With suspension looming, Alex Rodriguez heads to Trenton

TRENTON – The stage is set, the fans are ready to pack the stands and the weather forecast calls for nothing but mid-80s and sunshine. Everything is in place for the Thunder’s most talked-about event since Roger Clemens tuned up here six seasons ago.

This time, however, there’s a chance the star of the show never makes it back to the Bronx.

As he works his way back from a mysterious quad injury that he and a rogue doctor insist never happened, Alex Rodriguez is poised to make his second rehab appearance this season with the Thunder. He played two games with the team in Reading two weeks ago, then moved up to Triple-A for a few games before the quad allegedly started barking.

That led to another nasty, public spat between the embattled superstar and his employer, followed by more rehab work in Tampa, which culminated on Thursday with a simulated, media-shielded game at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The next step is two games on Friday and Saturday at Arm & Hammer Park against – yep, Reading – this weekend as Rodriguez tries to get back on the field for the first time since the Bombers fell to the Tigers in last year’s American League Championship Series.

The only problem, of course, is the little matter of the massive suspension hovering over Rodriguez. Reports have seemed to shift by the day, but the latest word had the slugger and his advisors trying to negotiate a possible lifetime ban down to something more on the order of 100-200 games.

While that sorts itself out, Thunder manager Tony Franklin said he and his team were only focused on the game and playoff race ahead.

"It's baseball as usual for us,'' Franklin said prior to Thursday's series finale against Harrisburg. "There is a lot surrounding Alex, as there was last time, but we are at the point where we know what we have to do and that is come 7:00. We have to go out there and play. I know it could be a last-minute decision, but it's not that big of a deal to me.''

Under normal circumstances, a first offense under the Joint Drug Agreement would trigger a suspension of 50 games. This being A-Rod, however, means the circumstances are anything but normal.

Major League Baseball says it has enough evidence to prove that Rodriguez obstructed the league’s investigation into his involvement with the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic in Florida, which allegedly provided performance-enhancing drugs to a host of ballplayers. Those found in the notes of clinic head Anthony Bosch include Rodriguez, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Mariners backstop Jesus Montero.

Both Cervelli and Montero are Thunder alumni.

Adding a little more intrigue – if that’s possible – is the starter on the hill for Reading. That would be 
Jesse Biddle, the Phillies’ top pitching prospect and an alumnus from this year’s Futures Game.

Because of his appearance in the annual midsummer showcase – held this year at Citi Field – Biddle wasn’t on turn for Rodriguez’s first appearance against the Fightin Phils. Presented with the possibility at his Futures Game locker, however, Biddle said he definitely wanted a crack at the man with more than 600 home runs to his name.

“I would love to face A-Rod, obviously,” Biddle said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer. You want to pitch against those guys. You want to see how you do. You want to see how you stack up. I’m not going to pitch to contact — I’m going to try to strike him out.”

Unless Major League Baseball does it first. 


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