NEW YORK (Reuters) - Beleaguered New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez plans to fight through the appeals process any suspension or banishment Major League Baseball might hand down following its investigation into doping, his lawyer said on Monday.
"We are focused on an appeal," David Cornwell told ESPN Radio.
Media reports have said MLB was poised to announce penalties against Rodriguez and more than a dozen players involved with the now shuttered Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis that is alleged to have distributed performance enhancing drugs.
Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League most valuable player, has already accepted a 65-game ban through the end of the 2013 season over his ties to the clinic.
"Alex's primary focus right now is playing baseball," Cornwell said.
The attorney said he would be challenging the credibility of Biogenesis clinic founder Anthony Bosch, who has been cooperating with MLB, as well as ex-Biogenesis employee Porter Fischer, the man who gave documents to Miami New Times which broke the initial story about the case in late January.
"What's important is whether (the arbiter) will believe that he (Bosch) is credible or not. That is something we will present in the hearing, and not in the media," Cornwell said.
"We feel we have good, valid and strong defenses for Alex and we intend to present them when the time comes."
The power-hitting third baseman is in Tampa rehabbing a quad injury that postponed his return to the Yankees last week and he is "champing at the bit" to resume playing, his lawyer said.
"It has been nearly a year since he played," Cornwell said. "He has gone through his operation. There is no amount of rehab games or simulated games that is going to give him the feel of a live blitz at a major league baseball level."
If Rodriguez, 38, is deemed healthy, he was expected to be eligible to play during any appeals process, which could take weeks or months.
He has been sidelined the entire season after undergoing hip surgery and then suffering the quad strain.
If he has no setbacks physically, Rodriguez could return sometime in the first week of August.
Various reports have said Rodriguez could face anywhere from a 50-game suspension to a possible lifetime ban, although MLB has made no official comment on that.
Rodriguez would not be paid for any games missed due to a suspension. He has nearly $100 million remaining on his 10-year, $275 million contract.
Cornwell successfully represented Braun in his appeal of a failed performance-enhancing drug test two years ago over the mishandling of his urine test.
He did not provide counsel for Braun in the player's agreement last week to serve the suspension after admitting to violating MLB's drug policy.
(Reporting by Larry Fine,; Editing by Gene Cherry)