As a horde of reporters sat outside of the Yankees clubhouse late last night anxiously hoping that general manager Brian Cashman would pop his head out, a stadium worker drove by in a golf cart and exclaimed, “The Bronx Zoo is back, baby!”
This man’s reference to the circus-like atmosphere that surrounded the Yankees in the late ‘70s while The Boss was in his controversial prime may have been a bit exaggerated, but there’s no doubt that there was something odd going on in the Bronx on Tuesday night. Shortly after Joe Girardi had reiterated at his pregame press conference that Alex Rodriguez was still only taking simulated at-bats and had not been cleared to play in rehab games yet, A-Rod – through his less than a month old Twitter account – contradicted what the Yankees have been telling us.
“Visit from Dr. (Bryan) Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news – the green light to play games again!” Rodriguez tweeted at 6:22 p.m. last night.
A-Rod’s proclamation did not sit well in the Yankees front office, and in a rare moment of frustration, Cashman gave ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand a quote that would reverberate throughout the baseball world.
“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’s surprising statement immediately took the attention off of the Yankees’ 4-3 walkoff win over the Texas Rangers, which may have caught Girardi a bit off guard during his postgame press conference.
“I don’t tweet and I don’t really follow Twitter, so I don’t know much of what is going on,” he said. “As far as I know, he is not cleared. (Head trainer) Stevie (Donohue) did not tell me that he was cleared to play in rehab games. I will find out.”
Clearly, A-Rod’s decision to make any kind of injured-related announcement on his own was not the way that the team wanted this handled. His tweet seemed harmless enough at the time, but Girardi noted that even if A-Rod was cleared by his surgeon, that still didn’t mean that he had been cleared by the team doctors.
It certainly wouldn’t have been this big of a story had Cashman been a bit gentler with his comments, but you have to believe that this is anger directed at A-Rod that has been mounting. Cashman is a smart guy who has dealt with the New York media for a long time, so he had to know what kind of a stir this would cause. My question is, what does he hope it will accomplish?
In response, A-Rod issued a statement on Wednesday morning.
“I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win,” he said through his publicist, Ron Berkowitz. “The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly’s prognosis.”
To say that A-Rod’s relationship with the Yankees is on thin ice might be an understatement, but the team really has no options. Cashman would love to unload his massive contract is he could, but we all know that is highly unlikely.
All of this makes you wonder what the fallout will be from Cashman’s rant. Maybe, the guy in the golf cart was right.
“There’s always a chain of command with the injuries, and there has to be,” Girardi said. “That’s the process. It goes through our training staff, our doctors, our GM and then it probably gets to me. I’m kind of down on the totem pole.”
Associated Press photo