Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News
Alex Rodriguez's high-priced legal team was expected to try to dig up dirt on Anthony Bosch at Day 4 of hearing on A-Rod's doping ban.
Alex Rodriguez's legal team had been salivating over the opportunity to rip apart Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch ever since the steroid-stained superstar's 211-game suspension was announced by Major League Baseball on Aug. 5, and on Thursday, A-Rod's high-priced advisers finally got their chance.
New York criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopina began his cross-examination of Bosch shortly after MLB lawyers finished questioning the Biogenesis "biochemist" on Day 4 of Rodriguez's appeal of his unprecedented suspension at MLB's Park Ave. offices, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.
Tacopina and the other high-priced lawyers on Rodriguez's legal team were expected to mount an all-out assault on Bosch's credibility, attacking him as a drug-dealing liar who turned on the Yankee third baseman to save his own skin. Team A-Rod was expected to point out for arbitrator Fredric Horowitz that Bosch, whose now-shuttered South Florida anti-aging clinic allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to Rodriguez and dozens of other athletes, is the target of state and federal investigations and had been fined $5,000 by the Florida Department of Health for practicing medicine without a license.
Rodriguez's attorneys were also expected to accuse MLB officials of intimidating Bosch into cooperating with them, and then buying his testimony. Bosch is a defendant in a lawsuit MLB filed in Florida state court in March that accuses him and other Biogenesis associates of tortious interference with baseball's basic agreement with the Players Association. MLB agreed to drop Bosch from the suit, cover his legal expenses, indemnify him from litigation that may arise as a result of his testimony and put in a good word with law-enforcement officials.
Bosch took the witness stand on Monday afternoon and has spent much of the week validating a trove of documents and electronic communications that MLB officials believe show that Rodriguez obtained performance-enhancing drugs from Biogenesis on numerous occasions.
The Daily News reported on Wednesday that A-Rod's lawyers said in their opening statement that Rodriguez - who has acknowledged that he used steroids from 2001 to 2003 - believed that the products he received from Bosch and Biogenesis were legal supplements and not banned substances. A spokesman for Rodriguez disputed that in a statement issued on Wednesday but did not contradict any of the elements in the story.
Rodriguez and Bosch were friendly for several years before the Biogenesis scandal broke and shattered their relationship, sources have told The News. BALCO founder Victor Conte told The News in August that Rodriguez referred to Bosch as his "nutrition guy" during a May 2012 meeting about legal sports products in Conte's Bay Area offices.
Meanwhile, a notably smaller group of supporters greeted Rodriguez as he arrived at Major League Baseball's Park Ave. offices at 9:15 a.m. on Thursday. More than 150 Rodriguez supporters had rallied outside MLB headquarters on Wednesday, but only a few dozen people were on the scene the next morning when A-Rod and his advisers arrived for the hearing.
Hispanics Across America president Fernando Mateo, the activist who organized the daily rallies, said he expected more protesters to arrive later in the evening for a candlelight vigil in support of Rodriguez. But the crowd seemed to shrink by the time A-Rod and his advisers left MLB's offices on Thursday evening.
"We are not here to say A-Rod is an altar boy," Mateo said. "We are here to say he should be treated fairly. He should have been given a 50-game suspension like the other players. If he is guilty, he should be punished accordingly."
Rodriguez's appeal will continue on Friday, but will be put on hold until later this month because of conflicts in Horowitz's schedule.