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After Braun's Suspension, Is A-Rod Next At Bat?

Is Ryan Braun just the leadoff hitter for a lineup of stars who, like him, will soon be suspended by Major League Baseball for their dealings with a Miami-area clinic that allegedly sold performance enhancing drugs?

On Here & Now Tuesday afternoon, Sports Illustrated writer David Epstein told host Robin Young that it's almost certain "other names will fall" and that the case Major League Baseball has against New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is thought to be "even stronger than what [MLB officials] felt they had against Ryan Braun."

As we reported Monday, Braun has been suspended without pay for the rest of this season. According to Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel:

"In a sanction mandated by the Office of Commissioner Bud Selig, Braun agreed to sit out the remaining 65 games of the 2013 season without pay as punishment for evidence uncovered against him in the investigation of the scandal-plagued Biogenesis clinic in Florida.

"MLB did not announce what violations Braun committed, but a baseball source said the evidence was 'so overwhelming' that the 2011 National League most valuable player had no choice but to accept the 65-game penalty or face a much longer suspension."

In a statement, Braun said "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions." He added that "I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates."

Braun and Rodriguez are among about 20 players who reportedly have been linked to Biogenesis.

Braun likely decided to accept his punishment now, say Epstein and other reporters covering the story, because his Brewers are having an awful year (19 games back of first place in the National League's Central Division) and don't have a realistic chance of reaching the playoffs.

Also, the Journal Sentinel points out that "while [Braun] will forfeit about $3.3 million while under suspension for the remainder of this season, his salary jumps from $8.5 million to $10 million in 2014."

So he can serve his suspension now and then come back in 2014 when he'll be paid more and, perhaps, when Milwaukee will be playing better.

Rodriguez, who because of injuries hasn't been on a major league field since last season's playoffs, might not opt to follow Braun's example. He's trying to get back in shape and the Yankees are in the playoff hunt. Two other players whose names have been linked to Biogenesis — the Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz and the Oakland Athletics' Bartolo Colon — are also on teams that could be playing in the post-season. So they also might exercise their right to appeal any threatened suspensions and keep playing.

That's why, SI's Epstein said on Here & Now, "I don't think we're going to see any more suspensions this season."

Still, said Epstein, he expects MLB will take a hard line against Rodriguez. The Yankees player has been accused of trying to buy documents from Biogenesis employees in what might have been an attempt to gather evidence that could be used against him.

Epstein expects major league officials will say something like this to A-Rod: "If you'd like to avoid a lifetime ban, what are you willing to take — 100 or 150 games?"

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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