NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez claimed he had received support from teammates, ex-players and Hall of Famers following his steroids suspension – though Tommy Lasorda and Rusty Staub are definitely not among them.
Lasorda believes A-Rod “should have got more” than a one-year ban since he he’s trying to ruin the game, and Staub categorized Rodriguez’s lawsuit against the players association as “pathetic.”
And according to a Yahoo! Sports report, seething members of the Major League Baseball Players Association want Rodriguez ousted from the union and have targeted him for retribution whenever he returns to the field.
“When he gets up to bat, you can hit him and hit him hard,” one unnamed player told Yahoo! Sports, which said as many as 40 players and board members participated in a Jan. 13 conference call on the Rodriguez topic.
“He sued us. Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz (also suspended in the Biogenesis scandal) screwed up (but) they took their medicine,” the player told Yahoo! Sports. “(Rodriguez) needs to be scared of coming back and facing people he sued.”
No one on the call spoke in defense of A-Rod, according to the report, but players were told that he couldn’t be banished from the union.
“If he can’t fear the wrath of getting kicked out or not being included, he’s going to be forced out,” the unnamed player said.
The comments by Lasorda and Staub were made Tuesday prior to the annual Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) dinner to raise money and awareness for ex-players in financial need — many of whom preceded the union’s establishment.
Staub, the popular former Met, had no quarrel with the arbitrator’s decision to reduce the Yankee third baseman’s suspension from 211 games to the 162 games of the 2014 season (plus playoffs).
But, “I thought the thing he did with the players association was pathetic,” Staub said, referring to the suit Rodriguez filed against MLB and the union over the suspension and the run-up to it. Staub did not elaborate. “That’s my opinion.”
Asked if he thought other ex-players shared that opinion, Staub replied: “I would think many.”
Lasorda unabashedly hammered Rodriguez when asked about the season-long ban.
“He should’ve got more,” said the Hall of Fame former Dodgers manager. “What he’s done, he’s trying to ruin the game. You can’t do that. He’s got a suspension, he should just sit back and fill it out.”
Briefly a left-handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Lasorda said, “I don’t like cheaters, they don’t belong in the game.
“If I’m pitching and I know that guy up there is using that stuff, I’ll hit him right in the mouth,” Lasorda said. “We’ve got to get this game to where the fans can understand that everyone’s on the same level.
“That’s the way it used to be. We never heard of steroids. Half the guys couldn’t even spell it.”
Lasorda, 86, believes in MLB’s claims that Rodriguez took a multitude of steroids and then tried to impede baseball’s investigation, which was based largely on testimony of former Biogenesis head Tony Bosch.
“I had always had great admiration for (Rodriguez); I knew him before he even graduated high school,” Lasorda said. “And when he was hitting all those home runs I thought, ‘At least this guy is doing it legitimately.’
“And then, of course, we find out that he wasn’t. So, that really tore up my opinion of him.”
Lasorda continues to support the Hall of Fame candidacy of friend and former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza, who fell short of the 75 percent needed for Hall of Fame election on his second ballot appearance (he polled 62.2).
“A lot of (voters) get suspicious and that’s it, but they don’t know for sure,” Lasorda said of unsubstantiated whispers of use of performance-enhancing drugs by players who’ve fallen short of Cooperstown election, such as Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.
“All (Piazza) can do is hope. He can’t do anything else. He’s at the mercy of the people who vote,” Lasorda said. “I told him, ‘Eventually you probably will get there.’”
TICKTOCK, TANAKA: Masahiro Tanaka’s decision on a new team could come down at any time prior to Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline, with the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers seriously involved – as well as the Diamondbacks and White Sox.
On Tuesday, Tanaka briefly caused an Internet stir when he tweeted in Japanese that he “can’t decide,” though it was later translated that he was referencing a fan poll on which new Twitter picture to accompany his account.