Yankees tell A-Rod to keep cousin away from team

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TAMPA, Fla. - The Yankees have told Alex Rodriguez to keep the cousin who allegedly injected him with steroids away from the team, a person familiar with the situation told Newsday yesterday.

Yuri Sucart, the cousin identified as having supplied and injected Rodriguez with steroids while he was playing for the Rangers from 2001-03, picked up Rodriguez on Wednesday after he was finished playing in the Yankees' 6-1 win over Toronto in their spring training opener. After homering in his second at-bat in the Yankees' first exhibition game and expressing how good it felt to get back on the field and do what he does best, Rodriguez hopped into a burgundy sport utility vehicle along with Nick Swisher.

Sucart was behind the wheel of the SUV - which was idling in the dirt parking lot behind the visitors' clubhouse in an area that's closed to the public - and he waited for Rodriguez to hop into the back seat along with Swisher. He then pulled out of the lot and drove off.

It was an extremely questionable decision for Rodriguez, given that he is only a week removed from explaining his steroids story and implicating an unnamed cousin, later identified to be Sucart.

Baseball officials understand they can't tell players whom they can hang out with, but in recent years, the league has attempted to get a better handle on the people who frequent the stadiums and facilities.

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The Yankees took it one step further by banning Sucart. But A-Rod's cousin's presence in an off-limits area just a little more than a week after holding his steroids news conference touched a sensitive nerve for the Yankees and baseball officials.

Briefly speaking about the matter before Rodriguez went 0-for-2 with a strikeout yesterday, general manager Brian Cashman, obviously bothered by A-Rod's latest apparent misjudgment, would only say: "It's been handled."

Said Rodriguez: "It's been addressed, and no further comment." A-Rod has agreed to keep Sucart away from team grounds for the rest of the season.

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Asked if he was annoyed that Rodriguez had Sucart pick him up, manager Joe Girardi offered no thoughts. "That situation has been addressed," he said, "and I'll just leave it at that."

When asked if that means Sucart won't be seen around the club anymore, Girardi referred back to his original comment: "I said the situation has been addressed and I'll leave it at that."

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Swisher said he had no idea Sucart was the man behind the wheel of the SUV and wore a somewhat bewildered look when asked about it.

"I just wanted to catch a ride back to the park [in Tampa] to pick up my Jeep," he said. "That's all."

Rodriguez is expected to head to Jupiter, Fla., sometime in the next few days to begin practicing with Team Dominican Republic for next month's World Baseball Classic. As Newsday reported earlier this week, MLB investigation officials plan to meet with him before he leaves spring training to start preparations for the WBC, so there's a good possibility that meeting will come sometime today.

Asked yesterday if the meeting had taken place yet, Rodriguez said, "No. No comment on that."

Pressed to clarify his answer to make sure his response that he didn't meet with anyone had not been misinterpreted, Rodriguez repeated the same refrain: "No and no comment."

When the meeting does take place, A-Rod probably will be flanked by personal attorneys. He recently hired Jay Reisinger, who has represented Andy Pettitte and Sammy Sosa, and also could have a lawyer from the players association with him. Commissioner Bud Selig initially threatened to discipline Rodriguez, but that's not likely to happen.

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