Alex Rodriguez took a swing for the fences in a bid to restore his reputation and lucrative career with the New York Yankees, accusing Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig in a lawsuit made public today of pursuing him in a "witch hunt" designed to smear Rodriguez's character and cost him tens of millions of dollars.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in New York State Supreme Court by lawyers for the Yankees third baseman. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for what it alleges was a relentless campaign by the league and Selig to "destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez." 

The suit claims Selig and MLB tried to smear Rodriguez's reputation to "gloss over" Selig's past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball.

The suit also alleges Selig hoped to redeem himself and secure his legacy as the "saviour" of America's pastime.

"Taking down Mr. Rodriguez would vividly demonstrate that Commissioner Selig had learned from the errors of his previous explicit or tacit tolerance of steroid use," the lawsuit says.

'A-Roid'

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games, the harshest punishment associated with the performance-enhancing drug scandals that saw several players suspended this year, but he was allowed to finish the Major League Baseball regular season while he appeals. He's now suing MLB and commissioner Bud Selig. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, the league called Rodriguez's actions "desperate" and said his suit was in a "clear violation" of the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement between MLB and the union.

The lawsuit was filed as Rodriguez appeals a 211-game suspension for violating baseball's drug agreement and labour contract. The suspension stemmed from the league's investigation of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Miami.

The lawsuit claimed MLB is paying the former owner of Biogenesis, Anthony Bosch, $5 million to buy his co-operation. Claims Joyce Fitzpatrick, a spokeswoman for Bosch, denied. "My client is cooperating fully with Major League Baseball and he has requested security be provided because he feels his life is in danger," she said.  

"Such are the lengths that Commissioner Selig and MLB have stooped to in their witch hunt against Mr. Rodriguez — paying and protecting someone under investigation for providing steroids to minors," the lawsuit says.

The PED scandal

Alex Rodriguez was among 14 players penalized by MLB this year following the league’s investigation of Biogenesis of America, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in the Miami area,  headed by Anthony Bosch. Biogenesis is accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The New York Yankees player began a grievance process Monday in an effort to overturn his 211-game suspension. The other 13 players accepted their penalties.

The court papers noted that Rodriguez's suspension was four times the length of the other 13 players suspended in connection with the Biogenesis probe and the longest non-lifetime ban in baseball history. They said the suspension was also 161 games longer than the 50-game suspension contemplated by the Joint Drug Agreement in the players' contract.

The lawsuit said the suspension will cost Rodriguez tens of millions of dollars in salary and could prevent him from meeting certain performance goals in his contract that are worth millions of dollars.

It also said two potential sponsors – Nike Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp. – have terminated negotiations with Rodriguez for potential sponsorship contracts and Rodriguez's voice work as a hero for an upcoming animated movie, Henry and Me, has been cut. The movie chronicles the Yankees' history and features baseball stars, past and present.

Rodriguez, 38, agreed to a 10-year, $275-million US contract with the Yankees in 2007. He holds numerous MLB records and has been an all-star and American League most valuable player.