Alex Rodriguez found himself at the center of controversy, once again, this week. For one of the few times, though, it wasn’t entirely his fault.
In just his ninth post since joining Twitter, the New York Yankees third baseman managed to get himself into trouble by giving an update on his health. Rodriguez has been out all season after undergoing offseason hip surgery. There have been rumors that he is hearing a return, and the three-time MVP confirmed the reports on Tuesday.
“Visit from Dr. Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news - the green light to play games again!” tweeted Rodriguez. Attached was a photo of the 37-year-old and the doctor that told him he can get back on the field.
This fact that A-Rod was going to start playing again was news to the Yankees, who were not prepared to declare Rodriguez ready to start participating in games. When Brian Cashman spoke to ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand, the general manager was unable to hide his frustration.
"You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will]," Cashman said. "Alex should just shut the f--- up. That's it. I'm going to call Alex now."
Cashman was upset that one of New York’s star players had contradicted what he said. The day before Rodriguez’s tweet, the GM told Newsday that the team had not set a timeline for A-Rod to begin a rehab assignment.
It’s understandable why Cashman became angry, since Rodriguez gave the impression that the two sides weren’t on the same page. However, the way he reacted was unacceptable. By reacting the way he did, the Yankees GM turned the situation into a national story. All of a sudden, the relationship between Rodriguez and New York became front-page news.
Rodriguez is a big enough distraction on his own that he doesn’t need help from members of the organization to create a media circus. When the 14-time All Star eventually does put on a uniform, questions about his alleged use of human growth hormone and lack of production will be a major topic of discussion. Now, Cashman has added more fuel to the fire.
The incident prompted a meeting between Rodriguez, Cashman and Yankees president Randy Levine. Afterwards, the team released a statement, claiming they would have no more problems.
"It was a constructive, healthy conversation. Everybody is on the same page and we are all going to communicate and work together to get Alex back as quickly as possible. Everyone fully understands the protocol and processes in place. We are all back on track.”
For the Cashman and the Yankees’ sake, they better hope things are back to normal. Whether the team likes it or not, Rodriguez is one of the most important players on the club, going forward. New York’s offense is decimated. Mark Teixeira and, possibly, Kevin Youkilis won’t play again in 2013, Curtis Granderson has had two lengthy stints on the disabled list, and Derek Jeter won’t return until after the All-Star Break. Sitting 3.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox and hitting just .240 as a team, the Yankees need Rodriguez to produce.
In a perfect world, New York would be rid of Rodriguez and his five-year, $114 million contract. Unfortunately for them, it appears that they will be stuck with the third baseman for a few more years. No team will trade for him and it’s unlikely that he’ll retire and walk away from so much money.
Rodriguez may be the most hated man in baseball, and Cashman expressed the way a lot of Yankee fans feel about A-Rod. As the general manger, though, Cashman has to be smarter. For better or worse, the Alex Rodriguez Era in New York may last for a few more years, and the Yankees have to do a better job of riding it out.