Cashman regrets choice of words after A-Rod's tweet
Rehabbing Yanks slugger calls general manager Wednesday to clear air after incident
NEW YORK -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday that he regretted his choice of words in reacting to Alex Rodriguez's social-media post, and hopes the club can improve its relationship with the rehabbing third baseman.
Cashman was irked on Tuesday when Rodriguez posted a Twitter message stating that he had been given the green light to begin playing in Minor League rehabilitation games by Dr. Bryan Kelly, the specialist who performed Rodriguez's left hip surgery in January.
The GM told ESPN New York that "Alex should just shut the ... up." Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told Cashman that the way he handled the situation was "an issue," but Cashman also said that it is vital that Rodriguez refrain from announcing information before the organization is prepared.
"When he is cleared and when his rehab games are supposed to begin, we'll talk about it," Cashman said. "We want Alex back as soon as we possibly can get him. There's no doubt about that. That's not an issue. It's just creating extra work by putting out different pieces of information."
Rodriguez called Cashman to clear the air at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to Yankees director of media relations Jason Zillo. Cashman had Yankees team president Randy Levine patched onto the call, which lasted close to 30 minutes.
"It was a constructive, healthy conversation," Zillo said in a statement. "Everybody is on the same page. We're all going to communicate and work together to get Alex back as quickly as possible. Everyone fully understands the protocols and processes in place. We are all back on track."
Cashman said that the Yankees have not yet officially announced a start date for Rodriguez's rehabilitation assignment because discussions are still continuing on that topic. He has been hitting against Minor League pitchers at the club's complex in Tampa, Fla., and will begin at Class A Advanced Tampa in the Florida State League.
Rodriguez released a statement via a publicist on Wednesday, saying, "I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win. The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly's prognosis."
Cashman said that he thought the tweet was "an unnecessary distraction" that created extra work not only for the GM, but also manager Joe Girardi and the Yankees' media-relations staff.
"From Alex's perspective, he's not trying to create a disturbance by tweeting it this way. I know that," Cashman said. "But at the same time, it has its effects."
Rodriguez and Steinbrenner had a conversation about the issue on Wednesday at the club's complex, with Rodriguez seeking out the managing general partner during a workout in the gym.
"Hal reiterated -- he did it more professionally maybe than I did, but about managing from the top down rather than from the bottom up," said Cashman.
Several Yankees players, among them Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli, have used social media to keep fans updated on their progress during rehab assignments. Cashman said that the Yankees do not have an issue with those posts, but they do have an organizational protocol that should be followed.
Cashman used the example of right-hander Brett Marshall, whose promotion to the club was "broken" on Twitter this season by Minor League teammates before the big league club was prepared to announce the move.
"The message needs to be sent, and I continue to reinforce it with our people, that there's a way to use social media and there's a way not to use social media," Cashman said.
In Rodriguez's case, Cashman was upset first by a New York Daily News article published on Monday that cited a source close to Rodriguez who said that he would begin playing in games on July 1, which Cashman said was inaccurate. He was then notified during Tuesday's game against the Rangers of Rodriguez's tweet.
"Ninety-nine times out of 100, I roll with it pretty good," Cashman said. "I didn't roll with this one well at all. I popped. I sounded off. Reality TV at its best."
Rodriguez's relationship with the Yankees has been tumultuous over the years, and while the last calendar year has been no exception, Girardi said that the Yankees would happily plug Rodriguez in the lineup at third base if he were ready.
"I've been anxious to get him back since the day I heard he started moving around and doing baseball activities," Girardi said. "Obviously, he becomes very important because of the way our lineup is constructed and he can play regularly at third base. Maybe you DH him a day here and there. He can be an important part of our lineup."
Rodriguez was benched in the 2012 American League Championship Series, and it was later revealed he had been flirting with fans behind the dugout during the Tigers' sweep of the Yankees. While recovering from hip surgery, his name appeared on documents linked to alleged performance-enhancing drug purchases from the Biogenesis clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.
Major League Baseball is continuing to investigate Rodriguez's potential link to further PED use, with suspensions possible. Cashman said pointedly that the Yankees are not stalling Rodriguez's return because of MLB's investigation, nor are they delaying him because of any potential insurance benefits related to his $28 million salary for this season.
"Make no mistake, if Alex Rodriguez is healthy, we want him and I want him playing third base for us yesterday," Cashman said. "He's doing everything, I know, in his power to get here to do that. We're clearly a better team with him."