NEW YORK — Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees turned down requests Saturday to meet with Alex Rodriguez's camp and the union about the embattled star's expected drug penalty, two people familiar with the talks told The Associated Press.
The overtures were made two days before MLB was poised to hand Rodriguez a lengthy suspension for his part in the Biogenesis case. The two people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.
Rodriguez, meanwhile, was in Trenton, N.J., playing what could be his last game in a while. He started a double play, then drew a walk in the first inning while on a minor league rehabilitation assignment with the Double-A Thunder. He was scheduled to be off Sunday.
The All-Star third baseman said Friday night the Yankees' tentative plan was for him to join them in Chicago for Monday night's game against the White Sox.
Before Rodriguez took the field, his side reached out to the Yankees and union head Michael Weiner contacted MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred. The Yankees and MLB said they had no interest in such talks.
There was always the chance, however, that further negotiations could take place at the last minute.
The New York Post, Daily News and New York Times reported the discussions earlier Saturday.
There hasn't been any definite word on the severity of Rodriguez's looming penalty, with speculation ranging from a lifetime ban to a suspension through the 2014 season.
Also possible, according to those familiar with the talks, was a suspension lasting until Aug. 31, 2014, the day before all teams are permitted to expand their rosters from 25 players to 40.
The 38-year-old Rodriguez hasn't played in the majors this season. The three-time American League MVP is recovering from hip surgery and a strained quadriceps.
A day after Rodriguez homered for Trenton, Thunder manager Tony Franklin hedged on whether A-Rod was ready to rejoin the majors.
"That's not for me to say," Franklin said. "His swing is getting better. He's running better. He's doing the baseball things OK right now. But that's a different game up there."
A sellout crowd was expected and a few minutes before the national anthem, A-Rod chatted up fans near the dugout and fist-pumped a kid, then walked off to have a catch.
Rodriguez caught a knuckling line drive by Reading's first batter and later fielded a grounder and began an inning-ending double play.
Batting second, Rodriguez walked to the plate to Jay-Z's "On To The Next One" and received a mixture of cheers and boos in the first. He fouled off a 2-2 pitch before drawing a walk.
Rodriguez slowly went first to third on a double off the right-field wall and was stranded. He also walked the next time he came up while his girlfriend, former pro wrestler Torrie Wilson, held up her cellphone to video the action from a second-row seat behind the plate.
In the top of the second, Rodriguez ranged to his right to field a grounder and threw high and wide to second. It was ruled an infield hit, though he probably would've made the play a few years ago.
The next inning, Rodriguez fielded a slow bouncer down the line and made a strong throw to first to get the out. He heard loud cheers as he jogged slowly to the dugout, looking around and seemingly taking in the crowd's appreciation.