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Attorneys for A-Rod, Major League Baseball meet in court

By Curtis Skinner

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Attorneys for Major League Baseball and embattled star Alex Rodriguez agreed on one thing at a judicial hearing in New York on Thursday - neither side wants to be in federal court.

The New York Yankees slugger, who is suing MLB and Commissioner Bud Selig, wants the case moved to state court, while Selig and the league want it thrown out altogether.

Attorneys for the two sides argued before U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield.

Rodriguez, in a lawsuit against MLB and Selig, accuse them of trying to destroy his reputation and his career by suspending him for 211 games for his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.

Rodriguez's attorney, Jordan Siev, argued that the case should be moved back to state Supreme Court, where the lawsuit was initially filed last month.

The case was moved to federal court at the request of MLB, which argued that Rodriguez had signed labor agreements governed by federal law.

MLB attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the case but said they would mount a defense if necessary.

"We would be prepared to defend against every allegation in an appropriate forum," said MLB attorney Joseph Baumgarten.

The judge did not rule on Thursday, and she scheduled another court date for January 23. She speculated that the case would likely be finished or moved to another venue by next August.

The superstar third baseman, who is known as A-Rod, did not attend the hearing.

In the lawsuit, he alleges that MLB and Selig are engaged in "vigilante justice" and interfering with his lucrative contracts and business relationships.

They are trying "to gloss over Commissioner Selig's past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances in baseball ... in an attempt to secure his legacy as the 'savior' of America's past time," according to the lawsuit.

MLB has denied the allegations and accused Rodriguez of trying to circumvent the grievance process of MLB and its players.

Rodriguez was one of 13 players suspended in August by MLB for alleged links with the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic in Florida, which is accused of supplying players with performance enhancing drugs.

He has denied wrongdoing and appealed the suspension. He continued to play - to cheers and jeers - for the rest of the 2013 season, which ended for the Yankees when the team failed to make the playoffs.

A 14-time All-Star and three-time Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez is the only player challenging his penalty.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and John Wallace)

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