NEW YORK — Facebook friends. Transcripts of BlackBerry instant messages. Records of texts.
Major League Baseball's investigators used an arsenal of high-tech tools to collect the evidence that persuaded a dozen players to accept 50-game suspensions this week for their ties to the Biogenesis clinic.
And when it came time to meet with the players' association, they flashed some of their documentary proof. While there was not enough time for the union to thoroughly examine what baseball had collected, there was little doubt there was an electronic trail, one of the people familiar with the meetings said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.
"It both complicates things and adds a layer of proof that certainly wasn't available many years ago," union general counsel David Prouty said Tuesday.
Alex Rodriguez, the lone holdout against a suspension, faces an arbitration hearing in coming months that likely will include such evidence. The New York Yankees third baseman was suspended for 211 games from Thursday through the 2014 season, though he is allowed to play until a decision is issued by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, which is not expected until at least November.
Until now, nearly all suspensions under MLB's drug program resulted from positive drug tests. The Biogenesis probe revealed players were using PEDs without detection.