The medical status of Alan Wiggins now will be determined by Major League Baseball’s Joint Review Counsel, and their decision on whether Wiggins is fit enough to play baseball again this season should come in a matter of days.
Yet, it almost didn’t come to that. Wiggins’ representatives had been in contact with the Padres recently, and the Padres, so they could verify Wiggins’ medical health, apparently asked Wiggins’ agent, Tony Attanasio, for Wiggins’ most recent doctor reports from the Hazelden Foundation drug rehabilitation center in Center City, Minn. Doctors there apparently had determined Wiggins was fit.
Yet, Attanasio, who was unavailable for comment on Thursday, apparently refused to turn those records over to the Padres.
Padre general counsel, Beth Benes, would not confirm nor deny whether this was true, but Barry Rona, the general counsel for Major League Baseball’s Player Relations Committee, said Thursday that he has been informed of all progress and that such a scenario did take place.
“The dispute is whether or not he (Wiggins) is medically fit to return,” Rona said. “The ballclub has requested medical records be turned over to their doctor so their doctor can give recommendation as to if Wiggins is fit to resume playing.
“And Wiggins (actually Attanasio) has refused. They have to turn over those records to the Joint Review Counsel now.”
The counsel, made up of two physicians (Dr. Don Ottenberg and Dr. Joel Solomon) and one psychologist (Dr. George DeLeon), should work quickly, Rona said.
“There is no time limit, but it’ll happen quickly,” Rona said. “We’re talking days.”
There are a number of potential scenarios thereafter. First, if the counsel rules Wiggins is fit, the next logical step, under the drug agreement, would be for Wiggins to be sent to the minors so he could rehabilitate himself physically.
“Once it’s established that he’s mentally ready and physically ready, the Padres have to do something,” said Lee McPhail, executive director of the Player Relations Committee. “They can take him back, assign him to another team (or, in other words, trade him) or release him.”
The Padres have said they won’t take him back, not this season. So it’s more likely they’ll trade him or release him. If they do none of the above and just keep him out of action, Wiggins’ people obviously would file a grievance.
And McPhail said the Padres couldn’t just keep him on the sidelines, assuming the Joint Review Counsel rules in Wiggins’ favor.
“They can’t ignore him for any unlimited time,” McPhail said.
Naturally, if the Joint Review Counsel rules against Wiggins, he’s most likely through for the year, although Wiggins’ people again probably would file a grievance.