Yanks' decision to keep third baseman in Florida for treatment frustrates veteran
ARLINGTON -- The Yankees are giving Alex Rodriguez the stop sign after he tried to force his way into the big league lineup, stashing the disappointed third baseman at the club's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., for further rehabilitation of his strained left quadriceps.
An evaluation performed on Thursday by Dr. Dan Murphy in Tampa showed there has been progress with the injury, but the Yankees do not believe Rodriguez can be physically ready to play in big league games before Aug. 1. As such, he will remain in Florida.
"The hope from the Yankees' end has always been to have Alex back as soon as possible," Cashman said on a conference call. "Obviously I know from Alex's end, he has always wanted to play as soon as possible. It just comes down to, when is that feasible? We're certainly trying to get there as fast as we possibly can, but we need a healthy player to do so."
Rodriguez opened the day on Thursday by issuing a statement via publicist Ron Berkowitz that stated, in part, that he was "ready" to play and wanted to be in the Yankees' lineup on Friday when they open a three-game weekend series with the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
Told via conference call by the Yankees that was not an option, Rodriguez picked up the phone and contacted WFAN host Mike Francesa, appearing as a surprise guest on the New York radio station to voice his displeasure with the situation.
"I made it clear to everyone I spoke to today I'm ready to go," Rodriguez said. "I've had plenty of at-bats, and I'm anxious and willing to play. Obviously, [I'm] very frustrated, but I'm going to keep my head down here for the next five or six days, keep swinging the bat and hopefully I can be up there with my teammates in New York and help them win."
When asked if he still trusted the Yankees, Rodriguez balked.
"I'd rather not get into that," Rodriguez said. "I'm just frustrated I'm not on the field tomorrow. I'll leave it at that."
Rodriguez's call to WFAN came after he issued a statement attempting to turn the page after he and the Yankees clashed over a decision to seek a second opinion on the quad injury.
"I think the Yanks and I crossed signals," Rodriguez said in the statement. "I don't want any more mixups. I'm excited and ready to play and help this team win a championship. I feel great, and I'm ready and want to be in the lineup Friday night. Enough doctors, let's play."
It was Rodriguez's camp that brought Dr. Michael Gross, the chief of orthopedics at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J., into the fold. Gross looked over Rodriguez's MRI exam for about 20 minutes and said he saw no injury. Despite not treating Rodriguez in person, Gross appeared as a guest on WFAN on Wednesday, proclaiming that there seemed to be no reason Rodriguez could not play.
But Murphy's evaluation on Thursday concurred with the original opinion of Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad, who diagnosed Rodriguez with a Grade 1 quad strain after an MRI exam on Rodriguez at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday.
Rodriguez spent about five hours at the Yankees' Tampa complex on Thursday. He was not seen outdoors during that time, then left in a sport utility vehicle without speaking to reporters.
Cashman said that the Yankees held a 2:30 p.m. ET conference call on Thursday that involved the GM, team president Randy Levine and Yankees rehab trainer Tim Lentych, as well as Rodriguez and his attorney, Jordan Siev of Reed Smith. The call lasted approximately 15 minutes, Cashman said, during which time Rodriguez and Siev agreed that a rehab protocol would be followed.
"That protocol will include further treatment, which will continue tomorrow with some light conditioning and then expand to more functional work from the 27th through the 31st," Cashman said. "Our hope -- as well as Alex's hope, without any setbacks or new complaints -- would put him in a situation to have either a simulated game or a rehab game on August 1st."
Cashman said that if everything goes well with Rodriguez's next week of activity, he could return to the Yankees' big league lineup shortly after Aug. 1. Cashman said that Rodriguez and Siev understood the plan.
"He said he was on board with it," Cashman said. "We walked him through it, along with his attorney, who was on the phone. He understood it. He understands the process. He reiterated on his end that players just want to play. If it was his choice, he'd be out there Friday, but that's not responsible."
Rodriguez told Francesa that it "would be ideal" if he could join the Yankees and rehab his quad with the club, as Derek Jeter is doing, but that topic apparently did not come up on the conference call. Rodriguez said that he could "definitely ask Cashman and see what he says."
The Yankees released a statement on Wednesday that indicated Rodriguez acted contrary to Major League Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement by failing to inform the team that he was seeking a second opinion on the injury.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that the Yankees intend to discipline Rodriguez for violating the CBA, with a fine thought to be the most likely option. Asked if the Yankees plan to discipline Rodriguez, Cashman said, "I would not comment."
Rodriguez countered by saying that he spoke to Levine on Tuesday, informing him of the intent to seek a second opinion.
If Rodriguez is healthy and able to contribute at the Major League level, the Yankees could use his help; the club is currently using a platoon of David Adams and Brent Lillibridge at third base and entered play on Thursday ranking 12th among the 15 American League clubs in runs scored.
"He'd like to play if he could play," Cashman said. "Coincidentally, so would we. We'd like him to play if he could play. We're just trying to get him to a point where he can responsibly be healthy and a capable player for us. Hopefully, that date can happen rather soon."