Here’s the thing I keep coming back to this morning, and the thing I kept trying to figure out yesterday: What was the point of that entire chapter of the Alex Rodriguez saga? What was he trying to accomplish?
I’m pretty sure Tim Brown has already written about this far better than I can — “Given the gravity of the moment, his career possibly at stake, Rodriguez discovered the ballpark streaker of doctors.” — but here are a few things I’m still trying to wrap my head around.
1. Was Rodriguez trying to get on the field this weekend?
If he legitimately believes the Yankees are keeping him off the field through a false diagnosis, was he thinking that going on the offensive would force them to change their minds? If the Yankees suddenly play him at this point, they’ll be caving to a player who threw a sort of big-media tantrum because he didn’t get his way. Or, I suppose, they could just tell him, “You’re ready to play? Fly to Texas immediately. You’re starting at third base in an afternoon game in 99 degree heat.” And if his quad really is fine, and he really does think the Yankees aren’t willing to put him on the field, why not play through last weekend and call their bluff?
2. Why would the Yankees want to keep Rodriguez off the field?
Is he envisioning a Hail Mary scam in which the Yankees refuse to play him, claim he’s hurt, and try to collect insurance money or void the contract? Wouldn’t that plan be pretty easily spoiled by Rodriguez himself? Wouldn’t that plan be put into real jeopardy by the Yankees actually letting Rodriguez play through a rehab assignment and announcing that he’s going to be back in the big leagues in two days (which is exactly what they did)? Isn’t he the one who complained about the quad injury in the first place, derailing the Yankees plans to activate him? The Yankees are paying this guy an absurd amount of money, and he would probably become their cleanup hitter in an instant. They’re ready to play him, if only because there’s nothing else to do with him.
3. Doesn’t every player with a mild injury think he’s ready to play?
How many times in the past week has Derek Jeter said he wants to play? He knows he’s been diagnosed with a Grade 1 quadriceps strain — same thing Rodriguez has — but he keeps telling anyone who will listen that he feels no discomfort and thinks he’s ready to go. That’s fine. That’s expected. Mark Teixeira was saying the same thing about his wrist before he came back. I’m sure guys like Jayson Nix and David Phelps and Curtis Granderson are feeling pretty much the same way right now. But we’ve all seen enough baseball — and seen the Yankees cautious approach to injuries — to know that it’s a process, and that it moves slowly at times. Rodriguez seems to have suffered a mild setback, then he threw a fit about it and blamed Chris Ahmad.
4. Is this just part of an ever maddening burnout?
We all know that Rodriguez is a bit of a loose cannon. He’s prone to saying the wrong thing and doing the wrong thing, and he brings the negative attention on himself far too often. Away from the public, many young players say he’s a kind and willing teacher; Eduardo Nunez seems to really like him, for example. But Rodriguez’s career is spinning the wrong direction. He’s been hurt, his numbers are going down, and now there’s a Biogenesis suspension almost certainly in his future. If Rodriguez is panicking and making desperate decisions as they occur to him, then yesterday might make a little more sense.
Associated Press photo