Facing discipline on two fronts — from the Yankees and Major League Baseball — has not stopped Alex Rodriguez from ducking protocol and pleading his case to return to the Bombers, the most recent attempt coming on Thursday when the DL-entrenched slugger said in a statement, “Enough doctors, let’s play.”
For good measure, A-Rod then went on WFAN on Thursday evening and expressed disappointment with being sidelined. Asked if he trusted the Yankees, A-Rod said “Um,” paused, and said, “I’d rather not get into that.”
“I made it very clear to everyone I spoke with today that I’m ready to go,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve had plenty of at-bats, I’m anxious and willing to play. They said that obviously I’m an employee and I have to follow my bosses.”
According to a team official, who would not elaborate, A-Rod will be punished for retaining New Jersey orthopedist Michael Gross, who examined A-Rod’s MRI of his left quadriceps and who disputed a Yankee physician’s diagnosis of a Grade 1 strain. Wednesday, Gross did the media rounds and said he saw nothing “significant” when he reviewed the MRI. That set off another round of the pinstriped version of he said, they said, with Rodriguez and the team coming away with different perspectives on A-Rod’s latest imbroglio.
But the harsh reality is that A-Rod will not suit up in pinstripes Friday when the Yankees begin a home series against Tampa Bay — general manager Brian Cashman said as much in a conference call Thursday — and the slugger will be disciplined by the Yankees for violating terms of baseball’s labor agreement, when he sought a second opinion for his quad injury and circumvented going “through the proper channels” to do so.
Cashman put any notion of a quick A-Rod comeback to rest Thursday, telling reporters that A-Rod would begin a rehab protocol for the quad injury that will extend through Wednesday. “If it was (Rodriguez’s) choice, he would be out there Friday. But that wouldn’t be responsible,” Cashman said on a conference call while the Yankees played the Rangers in Arlington. Cashman said Rodriguez would play in a rehab game or simulated game Aug. 1, barring any setbacks.
The GM added that Rodriguez was “assessed” by Dr. Dan Murphy in Tampa on Thursday, and that Murphy concurred with team doctor Christopher Ahmad’s diagnosis of a Grade 1 (mild) strain of A-Rod’s quad, which was announced Sunday.
Cashman said that he then got on a conference call with Yankee president Randy Levine, rehab trainer Tim Lentych, Rodriguez and the third baseman’s attorney, Jordan Siev, to discuss the rehab plan going forward.
“We agreed that a protocol would be followed that is necessary when you return somebody from a quad injury,” Cashman said. “Our hope, as well as Alex’s hope — without any setbacks or new complaints — that would put him in a situation to have either a simulated game or a rehab game on Aug. 1.” Cashman declined comment on whether A-Rod would face any discipline by the team. Rodriguez already faces what is expected to be a lengthy suspension by MLB for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal. He had hip surgery in January (his second in four years) and has not played for the Bombers this season.
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The New York Daily News back page for July 26, 2013.
Rodriguez, for his part, said the dust-up with his employer over retaining Gross was nothing more than “crossed signals.”
“I don’t want any more mix-ups. I’m excited and ready to play and help this team win a championship,” Rodriguez said in the statement. “I feel great and I’m ready and want to be in the lineup Friday night. Enough doctors, let’s play.”
He may have had enough of doctors, but that wasn’t the case earlier in the week. Levine told the Daily News that A-Rod called him late Tuesday night to express that he was “frustrated” and “wanted to go forward” and begin playing for the Bombers, despite the fact that the team opted not to take him off the disabled list after his 20-day rehab assignment expired.
The decision to leave him on the DL came after Rodriguez scratched himself from the lineup of his final rehab game Sunday — the last four games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre — and traveled from Moosic, Pa., to New York City to get an MRI on his left quad. Ahmad diagnosed a Grade 1 strain. Rodriguez had complained about soreness in the quad before the All-Star Game when he was rehabbing in Tampa.
Levine said Rodriguez also told him during the Tuesday conversation that he had “already seen another doctor” about the quad. “What’s the doctor’s name?” Levine asked Rodriguez, but Levine said A-Rod refused to give a name. The Yankee president then advised Rodriguez that he could “do whatever you want,” as long as Rodriguez followed proper protocol — including informing the team, revealing the doctor’s name and making sure he received permission.
Instead, as Cashman stated in a Wednesday press release, Rodriguez chose to go his own route, “contrary to the Basic Agreement,” as the GM stated, and had Gross examine Rodriguez’s MRI.
“Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain,” Cashman’s statement read.
Gross spoke through several media outlets Wednesday, including on SNY TV, where he said that he never met Rodriguez, but was referred to him through a mutual friend. “From what I saw there’s nothing significant on the MRI,” Gross said. “As an orthopedist, when I evaluate a patient, I examine the patient. I didn’t do anything like that in this case. I spoke to Alex on the phone and told him what I saw, which was I didn’t think I saw anything significant.”
Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News
A-Rod says the two sides ‘crossed signals’ in regards to his second opinion on quad injury.
Levine said he and Cashman both tried to reach Rodriguez at the team’s Tampa minor-league complex Wednesday, but Levine said the third baseman didn’t take their calls.
Thursday, Rodriguez arrived at the Tampa complex around 10:15 in a champagne-colored Chevy SUV, without gal pal Torrie Wilson, who tweeted about her birthday Wednesday. He did not speak to reporters and left the complex at 3:45.
When asked Thursday if it would surprise him to see A-Rod in the Stadium clubhouse Friday, Joe Girardi said, “I would think so.”
Gross, as SNY TV first reported, was reprimanded in February by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners for “failing to adequately ensure proper patient treatment involving the prescribing of hormones including steroids” at a facility he started called Active Center for Health & Wellness. Gross said the matter is “closed” and that Rodriguez was never a patient at the clinic. Gross has privileges at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“Alex was never a patient there, we never treated him. I, in fact, have a separate practice where we do massage, we do physical training, we do diet counseling, acupuncture. We do a very small amount, if we see patients for general wellness, and do bio-identical hormone replacement,” Gross said on SNY TV.
“One of the people who worked there was a physician who completed medical school, who finished a residency, but he wasn’t a licensed physician in New Jersey. We never maintained that he was a physician, but in an unrelated investigation of a lot of wellness centers, the board came across that. I met with the board. I received what you saw. It’s a closed matter.
“But it has nothing to do with Alex,” Gross added. “I really don’t think it’s germane to this.
“He’s never been a patient here. He’s never been treated here.”
Gross was ordered to pay a fine of $ 40,000 and required to complete a “board-approved course addressing how to identify and treat basic issues in blood analyses,” and a “board approved ethics course.”