Week of A-Rod drama for Yankees
While Bob Klapisch of the Record (Woodland Park, NJ) wrote this week that a Yankees insider called Rodriguez's recent behavior "bizarre," A-Rod told the Associated Press on Saturday that he "can’t wait to get back."
"So far, no issues," Rodriguez told The AP. "I'm just working really hard. I'm having fun. It's exciting to be back on the field."
The 14-time All-Star, who turns 38 on July 27, is taking at-bats at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., as he comes back from hip surgery in January. A-Rod, fifth on the all-time home run list with 647, also is fielding grounders, running the bases and doing sliding drills.
"I feel like my swing is definitely getting back to form," Rodriguez told The AP. "(Defensively) moving better the last few days. Everything is coming along."
On Wednesday, contradicting reports claimed Rodriguez told Yankees GM Brian Cashman and president Randy Levine he wasn't sure when he was coming back.
SportingNews.com reported Rodriguez told Cashman and Levine, "It could be July, it could be August. It might not be this year."
On Tuesday, A-Rod tweeted that he was cleared to play in rehabilitation games, prompting Cashman to tell ESPN.com, "You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, (we will). Alex should just shut the f*** up."
A day later, Cashman said he regretted the comment and said the Yankees would love to have a healthy Rodriguez back as soon as possible.
The entire fiasco likely is about money and the possibility of A-Rod trying to avoid a suspension from the Biogenesis investigation.
A-Rod's contract calls for him to make $114 million over the final five years of his contract, and if he plays in rehab games, is declared physically unable to perform because of the injury and has to retire, the Yankees would still have to pay him.
The New York Daily News reported A-Rod might be trying to speed up his rehab timetable so he could go the "physically unable to perform" route before a suspension is handed down by Major League Baseball — a ban would mean he wouldn’t get all of that dough.
"It’s all about him getting his money and not losing it to suspension," a source close to the situation told the Daily News. "He knows he’s never going to the Hall of Fame. All that’s left for him is to make sure he gets his money — all of it."
Meanwhile, ESPNNewYork.com reports a source claims Rodriguez believes the Yankees are slowing his return, hoping to declare him "medically unfit" to play this season. That would allow the organization to regain $22.4 million of A-Rod's 2013 salary — 80 percent of $28 million — through insurance.
Rodriguez last played on Oct. 18, 2012, when the Yankees were swept out of the American League Championship Series by the Detroit Tigers. A-Rod went 1 for 9 in the series, following a horrendous 2-for-16 performance in the Yankees' 3-2 ALDS win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Oh, how things seemed so much simpler — and entertaining — when Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner were stirring the Yankees' drink.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.