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Alex Rodriguez, still recovering from an injury, issued a statement early yesterday asking to be activated for Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Yankees declined.
When asked by WFAN radio if he still trust the Yankees, A-Rod said, “You know, I’d rather not get into that.”
NPR’s Mike Pesca joins us to explain what’s going on off the baseball diamond.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW. I'm Robin Young.
The drama starring Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees as taken yet another turn. Sidelined by hip surgery since January, A-Rod was preparing to return to the field tonight, but then strained his quad. The team says he's not ready to play. A-Rod got his own second opinion, says he is, and reportedly told friends, how come they let injured Derek Jeter play?
Oh, and by the way, the team still owes him $1 million, and he is the focus of a Major League Baseball drug investigation. It's not clear when or if the third baseman will return. NPR sports correspondent Mike Pesca is following all of this, which is difficult, Mike. It gets so complicated. What's going on?
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: But they let Derek Jeter play. I love that detail.
PESCA: Well, yeah. It's a drama. It's been called a soap opera. But, you know, drama has elements of conflict, and A-Rod is certainly in conflict with Yankee management, but it also has action. And this is all inaction. And let's just say it's not $1 million. It's millions of dollars that he is owed, and that is the fact.
YOUNG: Did I say a million? It's $100 million.
PESCA: Oh, yeah. A million - a million is a, you know, what he calls Tuesday.
PESCA: Anyway, A-Rod has a grade one sprain, which - grade one's tear of the quad, which is known as a mild tear of the quad. It's not that big an injury by name. The Yankees' physician says, still, he can't come on the field. A-Rod is desperate to get on the field. And part of this, A-Rod believes - people from his camp believe - that the Yankees are trying to keep him off the field because then they actually would collect some insurance money. In fact, quite a bit of insurance money. It's not clear how much.
But if he's unable to play because of injuries, that would be one way that the Yankees put some money in their pocket. And the reason they'd rather have insurance money than A-Rod playing is the Yankees aren't doing that well this year. That's not the big reason. A-Rod is just not the player he once was. Last year in the playoffs, they had to sit him against good right-handed pitchers. They had to pinch-hit for him. So you add that all up. You begin to see maybe the Yankees are incentivized to say, yes, yes, you're more hurt than you think you are.
YOUNG: Well, and as we said, he's being investigated in connection with performance-enhancing drugs. So they're waiting, I'm sure, for the outcome of that. But we want to note, too, it can't help that the doctor A-Rod says gave him the second opinion was reportedly reprimanded for his care of patients during the prescribing of hormones including steroids.
PESCA: Yes. And I looked into this, and the doctor has good credentials. His name is Michael Gross. He's at the Hackensack University Medical Clinic. I think, perhaps, more scandalously, if you want to apply that word, is the fact he never actually literally examined A-Rod. He just looked at some of his scans and MRIs. So I called up the New Jersey Medical Examiner, and he was reprimanded. But the specific reprimand was he had a wellness clinic.
Part of that clinic was prescribing hormones and steroids, although we know medically, not every steroid. In fact, the vast majority of steroids that are prescribed won't help you hit a baseball any better. But anyway, he had this wellness clinic. And an employee of the clinic who is doing some prescribing was not yet certified as a doctor. He had, you know, passed all his boards and passed his residency, but he wasn't certified.
PESCA: So, perhaps, the word steroid is taking on a bigger sheen than it should in that case.
YOUNG: Mike Pesca, NPR's...
PESCA: But still, it shows that A-Rod's maybe not the greatest PR team in the world.
YOUNG: Well, it's just continuing drama for the Yankees. And we, Red Sox fans, are not all unhappy about it.
YOUNG: Mike Pesca, NPR's sports correspondent, thanks so much.
PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.