Alex Rodriguez participated in a simulated game Thursday. (Chris O’Meara / AP)

As an announcement from Major League Baseball on just how it will punish Alex Rodriguez for his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic edges ever so slowly closer, A-Rod keeps working out, preparing for a return to the New York Yankees that seems extraordinarily unlikely.

The third baseman gave the appearance of baseball-as-usual as he continued his rehab from a quadriceps strain with a simulated game Thursday at the team’s Tampa facility. Later, the Yankees announced that he will play tonight and Saturday night for the team’s Class AA Trenton affiliate and is on track to join the team Monday in Chicago.

Against that backdrop, baseball is expected to announce punishment for him and other players soon, possibly this weekend. The announcement has been slow to come because talks between A-Rod’s representatives and MLB officials on just what the punishment will be have stalled. ESPN reports that the sticking points are the length of a suspension he will receive as well as his wish to receive at least some of the roughly $100 million he is still owed.

Fifty-game suspensions are likely to be handed down, with a lengthier punshment coming for A-Rod. And, if he refuses to accept the suspension without an appeal, ESPN and other outlets have reported that baseball is prepared to suspend him for life. As for negotiations, ESPN reported that MLB and A-Rod’s people “aren’t anywhere close.”

He could avert that by accepting a suspension that would keep him from playing until 2015, USA Today reported. For A-Rod, of course, that may well be the equivalent of a lifetime ban, given that he has two bad hips and is 38.

While this plays out, the Yankees and A-Rod are proceeding with a different sort of game: baseball. If he will not accept a suspension and chooses to appeal what baseball hands down, MLB and his reps would duke it out over whether he would be able to play during the appeal.

As it continues to play out, A-Rod, as he has done throughout his career, continued to draw the spotlight.

As he left the Tampa facility Thursday afternoon, A-Rod fought the desire to talk to reporters. He rolled down the window of his Maybach and motioned to print reporters to come over. When a second wave of reporters, with TV cameras, approached, he changed his mind. “I’ll talk to you guys, but no cameras.”

He closed the window and waited for a moment, then drove away.

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