Alex Rodriguez has been called many bad words, particularly in the aftermath of the latest accusations involving use of illegal performance enhancers.
Cheater. Fraud. Scourge. And more.
But one of the worst labels yet was affixed in deed, not words, yesterday by the Yankees:
As an injured player, A-Rod could have reported yesterday with pitchers and catchers. He could report next week with position players. He could do some of his rehab under the auspices of the team doctors and trainers at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Instead, Joe Girardi announced Rodriguez would do his rehab in New York, and the initial signs are he will not spend a single day at this seven-week camp.
Both Rodriguez and the Yankees had agreed even before the latest PED furor out of Miami that he was best served doing rehab for his second hip surgery in New York under the care of his surgeon, Bryan Kelly, much as was done following the first hip surgery in 2009, when Rodriguez recovered under the care of surgeon Marc Phillipon in Vail, Colo.
But even one Yankees official agreed it was a beneficial “byproduct” to keep A-Rod away from this camp to avoid the circus and negativity that would swarm around him. It speaks to the growing tension that flows both ways in the Rodriguez-Yankees dynamic that the player prefers not to be here and the Yankees are hardly upset by his absence.
It is reminiscent of 2005 when the dour Brown went on the disabled list with a back problem in late July. Manager Joe Torre essentially implored the front office to remove Brown’s malignant personality from the premises. Brown didn’t want to stay where he felt like an outsider anyway. So the Yankees sent him home for good under the cover that Brown was receiving attention from his “personal doctors.”
Brown was at the end of his contract and career. Rodriguez still has five years left on the most expensive contract in history, and his spokesman, Terry Fahn, told me yesterday, “Alex continues to work diligently on his rehab,” which points to an attempt to try to play again.
However, A-Rod is currently just across the state in Miami working with Kelly’s rehab partner, Pete Draovitch. He is not due to go to New York to intensify workouts under Kelly until late this month or early March.
If the relationship were good between Rodriguez and the team, I strongly believe A-Rod would stop by just to be around the players, coaches and atmosphere. Whatever you think of Rodriguez, he loves the game and the camaraderie of the clubhouse.
But both sides have agreed it is best for Rodriguez to stay segregated from Yankees life. Thus, when it comes to the Yankees, A-Rod is experiencing a Brown-out.