It’s early afternoon on an off day, and already Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer has appeared on a morning talk show and ESPN has reported that Rodriguez paid the retainer for a lawyer of Anthony Bosch. This is the reality of the A-Rod saga: It’s never ending, with new chapters opening day-by-day and hour-by-hour.
But if there was any question about the Yankees ability to separate off-the-field from on-the-field, last night seemed to provide a defiant answer. Rodriguez stands all alone in his fight against Major League Baseball and his fight against the Yankees front office, but last night the Yankees third baseman — never mind who he was or what he’d done — was hit by a pitch that seemed deliberate. And that’s all that mattered.
The Yankees responded as if Rodriguez were the most beloved and respected player on the roster. Joe Girardi flipped out, Brett Gardner stepped onto the field like he was ready to fight the entire infield, and the offense put together one of its finest rallies of the season for one of it’s most uplifting wins of the year.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to focus and have our guys remain focused,” general manager Brian Cashman said before the game. “I think Girardi’s done a fantastic job, I think our coaches have done a great job, I think our players are doing a remarkable job of trying to separate from something that I don’t think any of us has ever had to deal with. This is new territory. It’s a lot of extra that’s not by our doing.”
There’s no doubt that’s true. There’s a lot of extra, and it carries significant weight off the field and in the front office, but none of it matters on the field. While Rodriguez is allowed to play, he’s the Yankees best option at third base — by a considerable margin — and he’s helped the Yankees win seven of their past 10 games.
“He is helping,” Cashman said. “On the field, he’s helping.”
Cashman acknowledged yesterday that it’s become difficult for him to talk to Rodriguez because of all the off-the-field noise, but Girardi said the opposite. He said his relationship with Rodriguez has been virtually unchanged, largely because their conversations are all about the game.
“There are difficult situations that you work through,” Girardi said. “But bottom line is, everyone’s pulling to win games.”
And the Yankees coming on the field to defend Rodriguez after he was hit?
“I want them to come out,” Girardi said. “As I’ve said all along, you may not agree with the way Major League Baseball is handling this or that — that’s everyone’s opinion, and I respect that; I’m OK with that — but that’s your teammate, and we don’t allow people just to get plunked.”
Rodriguez has been a distraction, there can be no doubt about it. He’s said that this is not the time to talk about his fight with the Yankees, yet his representatives are doing just that. He’s accused the Yankees of forcing him to play through an injury, then he’s sworn absolute loyalty to the man who makes the lineup. It’s bizarre. The whole thing is overwhelmingly bizarre. It’s far too significant to ignore, and too big to go away quickly. But for the time being, it does not seemed to have leaked onto the field in any sort of destructive way.
“None of this stuff is productive,” Cashman said. “Being involved with Biogenesis isn’t productive — the allegations, at least, of being involved with Biogenesis. None of this stuff is productive. The last thing any of you or me want to be dealing with is this. It’s a unique circumstance that we’ve never found ourselves in off the top of my head, where you’re going through a 211-game suspension and an appeal process for violation of the drug program. There’s not much to say about that other than that I wish we weren’t dealing with this stuff.
“… Is it a distraction from my end? Yeah, it is. That’s why I think Joe has done a great job and our coaching staff has done a great job. We have a lot of players in there that they might have their own personal opinions of what’s taking place but I think that they’re able to separate it for the most part or they’re trying to for the best of their abilities.”
Associated Press photo