MIAMI — A Florida circuit court judge ruled Monday that Major League Baseball investigators can depose former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro (Lazer) Collazo, who they believe referred an MLB player to the clinic at the center of baseball’s latest doping scandal.
MLB attorney Adriana Riviere-Badell did not identify the player during a short hearing before Judge Ronald Dresnick in Miami-Dade County circuit court, and an MLB spokesman also declined to name the player sent to the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic by Collazo, a central figure in the South Florida baseball scene for 30 years.
Dresnick ruled, however, that MLB attorneys can depose Collazo, whom they have named as a witness in the lawsuit commissioner Bud Selig’s office filed in March that claims Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch and his associates interfered with baseball’s basic agreement with the Players Association by providing banned drugs to ballplayers.
Some of the game’s biggest stars, including Alex Rodriguez and other players linked to the clinic, could face lengthy suspensions. Collazo’s attorney, S. Antonio Jimenez, filed a motion on May 28 that said Collazo should not have to sit for a deposition because he is not a party to the suit and has never been employed or compensated by Biogenesis and has no knowledge of Bosch’s alleged transactions with major leaguers.
“He has nothing to add to this particular investigation,” Jimenez said of Collazo.
Jimenez argued that MLB should not be permitted to use Biogenesis documents linking Collazo to the clinic because they are confidential medical records. He acknowledged that Collazo had received testosterone from Biogenesis because “he suffers from low T.” But he said his client never steered players to the clinic and never received compensation from Bosch.
“My client never signed a release for medical records and they are still protected,” said Jimenez, who argued that he should be allowed to at least review the documents to prepare Collazo before a deposition.
But Riviere-Badell argued that the records Jimenez wants to review indicate that Collazo was compensated for referring an MLB player to Bosch’s clinic. “The documents show a link between the player and the client,” she told Dresnick.
Riviere-Badell scoffed at Jimenez’s assertion that the documents are protected, telling the judge they are not real medical records prepared by a licensed medical provider, and should not be considered legitimate. Bosch was fined $ 5,000 by the Florida Department of Health earlier this year for holding himself out as a doctor, as well as diagnosing and treating patients. Some of the documents Jimenez wants to review, Riviere-Badell added, have already been published by several media outlets. MLB officials have promised to drop Bosch from the tortious interference lawsuit if he cooperates with its investigators, as well as indemnify Bosch against future litigation that might emerge from his testimony and cover his rising legal bills.
Dresnick ruled that Collazo would have to participate in the deposition, but that Jimenez can review documents Collazo will be questioned about. Riviere-Badell said she would supply the records to Jimenez within five days. A deposition will be held 10 days after that. Collazo was forced to resign in 2003 after 17 years as Miami’s pitching coach after the NCAA sanctioned the school following a 22-month investigation into recruiting violations.
The University of Miami baseball program seems to be central to the scandal as Biogenesis. Rodriguez committed to Miami as a senior in high school in 1993 but ultimately chose to sign a professional contract with the Seattle Mariners. He has maintained close ties to the Hurricanes program ever since; the school renamed its stadium “Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park” in 2009 after A-Rod donated $ 3.9 million to the baseball program.
Brewers star Ryan Braun and Marcelo Albir, a Bosch associate who was dismissed from the suit last week, were teammates at Miami almost a decade ago. Minor-league pitcher Cesar Carrillo, who was suspended for 100 games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, and longtime Miami strength and conditioning coach Jimmy Goins have also been tied to the Coral Gables clinic.
Collazo told the Daily News earlier this month that he has known Rodriguez since the Yankee star was 9 years old. “He has been nothing but class with the kids around here and this community.”
Collazo claimed MLB investigators have harassed and intimidated his family, but Riviere-Badell disputed that claim on Monday. She said Collazo has attempted to mislead baseball investigators. “We believe some of these witnesses are trying to thwart our investigation,” she said.