Major League Baseball officials announced Monday that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will be suspended without pay through the 2014 season over his link to a clinic that provided performance enhancing drugs.
MLB's Biogenesis drug investigation began months ago, after reports connected Rodriguez to a Florida anti-aging clinic allegedly linked to PEDs.
That led to leading to a harsher penalty for Rodriguez -- suspension from 211 games -- while the other players were only suspended for 50 games.
In a statement, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "Rodriguez's discipline under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years."
Since Rodriguez is a first-time offender, an appeal under baseball's drug agreement would postpone his suspension until after an arbitrator's ruling, a process that could take weeks.
That allowed Rodriguez to play the first game of his season on Monday night in U.S. Chicago's Cellular Field against the White Sox, but he was booed by spectators and only batted 1 for 4. The Bronx Bombers lost 8-1.
Before Monday's game, Rodriguez said, "The last seven months have been a nightmare. It's been probably the worst time of my life, for sure, obviously for the circumstances that are at hand and also dealing with a very tough surgery."
He said he was "honored for the opportunity to put on the uniform again," after finishing his rehab assignment for Double A Trenton on Saturday, saying he felt great support from the team.
While Rodriguez said he "disappointed" by the announced suspension, he would not discuss the charges against him, saying there was "a time and a place" to discuss the allegations of using PEDs.
"What we've always fought for is the process and I think we have that, and at some point we'll sit in front of an arbiter and give our case," Rodriguez said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi also refused to discuss Rodriguez's suspension, saying that he only cared about how Rodriguez played the game, saying, "I'm not on this world to judge people."
Girardi called news of the suspension "a good and a bad day for us," but said he was glad that the players' union and MLB officials were working together to combat the use of PEDs.
The Major League Baseball Players Association's executive director, Michael Weiner, seemed to back Rodriguez, saying in a statement that Selig did not act appropriately, saying, "[W]e agree with his decision to fight his suspension."
In addition to A-Rod, MLB All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera have each accepted 50-game penalties.
Others accepting the suspensions include New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; San Diego pitcher Fautino De Los Santos; and free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto.