Club president calls lawyer's allegations 'specious and completely false'
BOSTON -- A warning was issued during Alex Rodriguez's 4 1/2-minute interview in Fenway Park's visiting dugout on Friday, in which the embattled Yankees slugger spoke of a "bumpy road" ahead in which he "would expect bigger and bigger stories to come out every day."
Rodriguez's comment proved to be prescient on Saturday. An attorney for Rodriguez voiced numerous claims in a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times, among them that the Yankees supposedly concealed the results of an MRI that showed Rodriguez was injured during last year's postseason.
Joseph Tacopina, who recently was retained by Rodriguez, also claimed that the Yankees and Major League Baseball have been working together to sideline Rodriguez and nullify his contract, which has $86 million remaining after this season.
"They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer," Tacopina told the newspaper.
Rodriguez eventually had an arthroscopic procedure to remove a torn labrum and left hip impingement in January, performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Tacopina claimed that prior to the procedure, Yankees president Randy Levine allegedly told Kelly, if Tacopina is to be believed, "I don't ever want to see him on the field again."
Levine swiftly denied Tacopina's claims to multiple news outlets and challenged Rodriguez to authorize the Yankees to release his medical records, which Levine said would prove that the Yankees never withheld information about his physical condition.
"Each and every one of these allegations is specious and completely false," Levine told the Times, adding, "It is pretty sad that any lawyer would make such ridiculous statements."
Robert Manfred, an executive vice president with Major League Baseball, told the Times on Saturday that baseball's investigation began because the names of players linked to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida were made public and said Rodriguez was treated "exactly the same" as the other players.
"The bottom line on this is," Manfred said, "I have yet to see Alex Rodriguez or any of his representatives say that Alex Rodriguez didn't use PEDs. They've adopted a strategy to make a circus atmosphere of irrelevant allegations. ... I don't know why anyone who represents Alex Rodriguez has any credibility or standing to complain about anyone's conduct, let alone ours."
Speaking after the Yankees' 6-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Rodriguez said, "I haven't seen the Times article. I've just come out of a game, so I'm going to defer to my lawyer to handle those matters."
Rodriguez has been suspended for 211 games by Major League Baseball but is continuing to play under appeal until his case can be heard by an arbitrator.
He struggled in the 2012 postseason and was benched by manager Joe Girardi against the Orioles and Tigers. Asked on Friday how much better his swing is this year compared with last year, Rodriguez said, "I shouldn't have been out there last year."
After Saturday's game, Rodriguez sidestepped a question asking if he believed the Yankees had knowingly played him through an injury in the playoffs.
"I don't even want to think about what happened last year," Rodriguez said. "I just want to focus on what's happening this year and try to come out tomorrow and win a series."
Girardi reiterated on Saturday that he had no reason to think that Rodriguez was hurt during the postseason.
"No, I didn't. We didn't know," Girardi said. "From everything I knew, he felt good. Then the one day came up, the day that I pinch-hit [in Game 3 of the American League Division Series], he just said his hip wasn't firing. That was the first inkling for me that maybe there was something wrong -- but [Rodriguez said] it was his right hip."
Girardi added that he always goes out of his way to make sure a player's health is not impacted.
"You're in a situation during the playoffs that you need guys to play," Girardi said. "I don't ever want to ruin anyone's career. That would break my heart.
"I've often talked about -- and sometimes maybe I take some heat -- with the way I handle a bullpen, but I am not ruining anyone's career. That's not who I am. I never felt that anyone ever put me in jeopardy, and I don't want to do that."
Asked if he thought Girardi was involved in any aspect of what Tacopina said in his interviews, Rodriguez said, "I love Joe. Joe and I have an amazing relationship. I have the utmost respect for Joe, and that's unwavered."
Levine told the Times that he never made the comment regarding not wanting to see Rodriguez on the field, and added that there are transcripts of telephone calls with Kelly to support that claim, if Rodriguez gives permission to release them.
Even as Rodriguez and his attorneys confront the Yankees' front office, Girardi said that he has been able to separate Rodriguez's duties as a baseball player from all of the off-the-field noise.
"It's something that I'm sure as time goes on, we will understand more and more," Girardi said. "For me, it's too early to digest. I have to worry about this; what we're doing here. I can't worry about accusations and stuff flying all over the place. My main job is to make sure his focus is on the field when he's out there, and I will do that."
Rodriguez said that he does not feel distracted, adding that he did not know why his lawyer was speaking about these topics at this time. He answered cautiously when asked if he still believes the Yankees have his best interests in mind.
"I can't speculate for what their thought is," Rodriguez said. "I know I've been here for 10 years. We won a championship. There have been some ups and downs, but I'm happy about where the team is right now. I think we have an opportunity to hopefully get to the postseason. That's our goal."