NEW YORK -- Although any potential cases for players suspended as a result of the Biogenesis investigation might go before an arbitrator as soon as September, the possibility exists that the suspensions will not be served this season, the players union head said Tuesday
Major League Baseball Players Association executive Michael Weiner said he expects MLB to share the results of its investigation, and its plan for suspensions, in the next month. At that point, Weiner said, the timing and impact of the suspensions will hinge upon whether or not the union and MLB negotiate a deal or commit to an appeals process.
"When all interviews are done, we will meet with the commissioner's office and we will try to work something out," said Weiner, speaking to members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. "Players that deserve suspensions, we'll try to cope with their suspensions. Players that don't deserve suspensions, we'll argue that they don't deserve suspensions."
MLB is interviewing players in relation to Biogenesis, a now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic that, according to multiple reports, supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs. Reports from the Miami New Times and ESPN said Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, Nelson Cruz and several more have ties to Biogenesis.
Commissioner Bud Selig, speaking to the BBWAA Tuesday before Weiner, called the investigation "thorough, comprehensive and aggressive" and said the approaching playoff race would not have an effect on the timetable.
"When they're done with the investigation, that will be the time, no matter what time of the year it is or the course of the season," Selig said.
Unlike suspensions stemming from positive drug tests, Weiner said, potential suspensions resulting from the Biogenesis investigation need not conform to the joint drug agreement, which stipulates a 50-game suspension for a first offense, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third. The suspensions would result from circumstantial evidence, known as non-analytic positives.
"In theory, they could be suspended for five games or 500 games," Weiner said.
Among the issues on the table when MLB and the union meet will be whether or not the commissioner's office can announce the names of the suspended players before the appeals process is complete. A provision of the joint drug agreement allows MLB to make public the names if they are already out in the public from an outside source, like a media report. The union would prefer the suspensions remain confidential until arbitrator Fredric Horowitz has ruled on all appeals.
"We haven't talked to the commissioner's office as to whether they believe that clause applies and whether they'd like to invoke it," Weiner said.
As for information already leaked, Selig said: "Nobody more unhappy about the leaks than me. I know this: The leaks do not come from us."
Selig lauded the progress MLB's drug testing had made during the past decade -- "We must be doing alright. I haven't heard from anybody in Washington in 81/2 years." -- but said a tough drug program needed tough enforcement.
Weiner spoke from a wheelchair as he continued to battle a brain tumor. He said his condition has worsened and he has started a different method of treatment. The union began working on contingency plans in November in case Weiner can no longer continue in his position, and the union will name a deputy executive director within weeks.
In response to reports that former union executives Don Fehr or Gene Orza may return, Weiner downplayed the possibility of both.
"I do not expect that Don Fehr will work again at the players association," Weiner said.
Fehr is the executive director of the NHL Players' Association.
NOTES -- Joe Torre, the MLB executive vice president of baseball operations, is "pretty confident" of the introduction of extended instant replay in 2014. He and Selig both want to avoid slowing the pace of the game. ... MLB remains in favor of an international draft, but will leave the current system in place for a few years. "We've made very clear to the MLBPA that the international draft will be on our list, whether it's just before or during the next round [of negotiations]," said Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice-president for economics and league affairs.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.