NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez dropped a lawsuit accusing a New York Yankees team doctor of botching his treatment for a hip injury, ending what had been a lingering piece of the slugger’s legal fight over his baseball career, his lawyer said Friday.
Rodriguez withdrew his suit against Dr. Christopher Ahmad "for the sole purpose of having no legal distractions" as the third baseman anticipates returning to play after the season-long suspension he’s serving this year, attorney Alan S. Ripka said.
"He wants to focus on being the best baseball player he can be, the best Yankee he can be, and wants nothing to distract him from those goals," the attorney said.
Ahmad’s lawyer, Peter T. Crean, said the orthopedic surgeon was very pleased with the development, which he described as "demonstrating that Dr. Ahmad’s care was complete and appropriate."
Ripka insisted that dropping the case wasn’t a reflection on its merits. "It’s about eliminating more things to think about and deal with instead of what’s the most important thing to (Rodriguez), which is playing baseball for the Yankees," the lawyer said.
Rodriguez abandoned the medical malpractice case four months after withdrawing two lawsuits against Major League Baseball over its investigation into whether he used banned, performance-enhancing drugs. He has denied it, but he agreed to accept the longest performance-booster-related suspension in baseball history.
While he was fighting the suspension last fall, the 38-year-old Rodriguez filed his medical malpractice suit. It said he had kept playing and worsened a left hip injury in October 2012 because Ahmad didn’t tell him an MRI had showed a joint tear. Rodriguez ultimately had surgery for the injury in January 2013, and his recuperation kept him from rejoining the Yankees until August.
The now-withdrawn suit also named New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where the MRI was done. The hospital "never thought that the case had any merit" and was pleased to see it dropped, said its lawyer, Neil F. Brenes.
The case was still in early stages, and arguments hadn’t delved into the medical issues. But in a sign of the sensitivity surrounding them, Rodriguez’s lawyer had asked a judge to make sure that any potential video of Rodriguez answering pretrial questions wouldn’t be publicly disseminated, had the case gotten to that point.
The suit didn’t name the Yankees, and team representatives didn’t immediately respond to email inquiries Friday evening about the development, first reported by the Daily News.