It’s hard to perfectly describe Mariano Rivera’s brief postgame interview last night. It lasted all of four questions, each of them about Alex Rodriguez, and it ended with Rivera packing his suitcase and saying he didn’t want to talk about it any more.
Just two weeks ago, on the day Ryan Braun was suspended, Rivera spoke for a quite a while about Rodriguez. For about 10 minutes he managed to pledge his support for a teammate, while also making it clear that rule breakers should be punished. It was elegant. It was handled in a Mariano-type way. Last night, Rivera was over it. Didn’t want to talk about it any more. Asked whether it would be a good thing to have Rodriguez back, Rivera said this:
“All of the distraction, without that, definitely. Again, we have to see what happens.”
Distraction? That’s what today is going to be about. There will be overwhelming scrutiny in Chicago, and almost none of it will focus on the game itself.
If today goes as expected, Rodriguez and roughly a dozen others will be suspended for their connections to Biogenesis. Rodriguez will receive the longest suspension of them all, he will appeal the punishment, and within hours he will return from the disabled list to play his first game of the season.
The league will declare that Rodriguez shouldn’t play until 2015, and he will immediately play his first game in roughly nine months.
“A bit of a circus, I’m sure,” Vernon Wells said. “I think Alex will do his best to keep as much of it out of the clubhouse as he can, and (he’ll control) what he has control over. I think the good thing is everyone knows the situation, knows what it could potentially be like, what the atmosphere’s going to be like, so there’s not fear of the unknown. I think we all have a pretty good idea, and we’ll be ready for it.”
The Yankees have a veteran clubhouse, and the players have generally said all the right things about supporting a teammate that most outsiders seem to have completely dismissed as a fraud and a cheat.
Derek Jeter: “I don’t know if anyone really knows what’s happening. But he’s our teammate. If he’s here tomorrow, we’ll look forward to seeing him.”
Andy Pettitte: “He’s part of this team. I’ve known Al since I’ve been back here, and I haven’t seen him in a while. So I’m looking forward to seeing him, and if he’s playing, hope he obviously can get back in here, get in the rhythm of things, and help this team out.”
Robinson Cano: “We’re all going to be happy, I would say, to see him back in the lineup. Especially the way we’ve been playing. We’ve been waiting for this moment to see him back in the lineup. You know what, come up and help us to win some games.”
Those are the public comments. Privately, there is some frustration in that clubhouse. There’s also some obvious frustration from the front office, and from the league office. One way or another, it’s going to be an unusual day, and the game itself is going to be the sideshow to a circus main event.
“Alex knows what’s going on, and I believe the organization knows what’s going on, so they have things to work out,” Wells said. “Hopefully everything gets taken care of. … We have 25 guys in here that are going out every day and trying to help this team win, and hopefully Alex can be here to help that starting (tonight).”
Associated Press photos