Alex Rodriguez said Wednesday he’s cutting off all non-baseball talk after a wild weekend of accusations and retaliations on and off the field.
Playing while he appeals a 211-game suspension for violating baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract, the New York Yankees star and his fleet of lawyers and representatives sparred with the Yankees and Major League Baseball over his medical care and evidence in the doping case that stems from MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis, the now-closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
”I think that’s behind us now. I’ve shut everything down,” Rodriguez said. ”I want everything to be 100 percent on baseball and that’s what I want my guys to focus on.”
Rodriguez was not in the Yankees’ lineup Wednesday night, a day after playing both games of a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays. The teams will play a day game Thursday.
”I felt I couldn’t play him both tonight and tomorrow, it’s probably too much,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez’s change of public-relations strategy comes after a weekend in Boston that turned increasingly intense and bizarre.
— While the Yankees were playing the AL East-leading Red Sox, it was learned Rodriguez paid Florida-based attorney Susy Ribero-Ayala in February to represent Anthony Bosch, head of the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. ESPN first reported the deal.
— Rodriguez’s newest lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, accused the Yankees of botching the slugger’s medical care last postseason when the three-time MVP was benched and pinch hit for during a pitiful playoff performance. Rodriguez had left hip surgery in January.
— Team president Randy Levine basically dared A-Rod to file a grievance, and the slugger said his lawyers would ask the players’ union to do so.
— Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters on the field in Boston that he felt ”lied to” by Rodriguez regarding his medical care, and that he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to one of the team’s most important players because they are in ”a litigious environment.”
— Finally on Monday, MLB wrote to Tacopina, urging him to waive his client’s confidentiality under baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement so all the evidence relating to the drug case could be released. The letter was given to Tacopina on the ”Today” show. Tacopina rejected the offer.
”I think that’s behind us now,” Rodriguez said. ”Out of respect to my team and my manager and my coaches we are in the middle of a pennant race. We’re playing pretty well right now. We want to keep the focus on the field.”
Rodriguez wasn’t free of controversy on the field, either.
In the second inning of Sunday’s nationally televised game, Boston’s Ryan Dempster threw three close pitches at Rodriguez before hitting him with another. Manager Joe Girardi was ejected for his outburst after Dempster was not ejected.
The moment appeared to galvanize the team, and the third baseman led the charge with a long home run that kicked off a sixth inning rally.
Dempster was suspended Tuesday for five games and fined $2,500. Rodriguez would not comment on the penalty.
Rodriguez returned from hip surgery Aug. 5, the day he was suspended by MLB. The Yankees were swept three straight by the lowly Chicago White Sox in his first three games but have been on a tear since. They’ve won nine of 12 to creep back into the AL wild-card race — 4 1/2 games back of the second spot.
Rodriguez is batting .296 with two homers and six RBIs in 15 games.
”I think if we keep doing what we’ve been doing the last two weeks — I think we’re playing with a lot of energy, a lot of confidence, (getting) a lot of contributions from a lot of people,” Rodriguez said. ”I think we have an opportunity that’s special and we want to put the focus on the field.”