BOSTON - Somehow, it was all so predictable.
On the verge of being activated from the disabled list, Alex Rodriguez suffered the setback many thought inevitable, diagnosed Sunday night with a grade 1 strain of his left quadriceps.
As a result, the third baseman remains on the DL and the Yankees announced he will return to the club's minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla., "for rest and treatment." In a statement, Rodriguez said, "I am extremely disappointed with the results of the MRI and hoping to be back as soon as possible and continue with my goal of coming back and helping the Yankees win a championship."
A-Rod can no longer play in official minor-league games because the 20-day rehab window has expired, but the Yankees can petition MLB for an additional rehab assignment for him due to a new injury.
As late as Friday, general manager Brian Cashman said the plan was for A-Rod, at the tail end of his 20-day rehab program, to join the Yanks in Arlington, Texas, Monday or Tuesday.
But Rodriguez complained of soreness in the quad before playing as the designated hitter in Saturday's game for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He said he consulted the Yankees brass Sunday morning and they determined it was most prudent for him to skip what was supposed to be his last rehab game and undergo the exam at New York Presbyterian Hospital by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.
When A-Rod -- who soon could be facing a lengthy suspension from MLB for his reported involvement with Biogenesis, a Florida clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to several players -- will be deemed ready to play again, if at all, is very much a mystery.
More than a few voices in the organization felt from the time surgery was announced for A-Rod's left hip in early December (the surgery occurred in January), the third baseman, his body clearly breaking down, would never set foot on the field this season.
This is the sixth straight season in which A-Rod -- who turns 38 Saturday and has four years left on a 10-year, $275-million contract the Yankees would love to somehow extricate themselves from -- has spent time on the DL.
His relationship with the organization has steadily deteriorated as both sides have questioned the other's motives, the Twitter blowup with Cashman a few weeks ago the latest example.
Rodriguez, while leaving PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., around 2:15 p.m. Sunday, told reporters that if the MRI doesn't reveal a strain, his schedule wouldn't be altered much. He said he hoped to work out Monday and play for the Yankees on Tuesday, he said, "assuming that everything goes well, and I think it should."
Which it obviously did not.
Before Sunday night's game in Boston, Girardi said he texted with A-Rod earlier in the day and also received an optimistic report. "He basically called it some stiffness," Girardi said. "From what I understood from talking to him, he didn't feel like he pulled anything. But we don't want to get into a situation where you call him up for a day, he plays a few innings and then it's more than what you think it is."
A-Rod said Saturday night he might have hurt himself Friday sliding into second base attempting to stretch a lined single off the leftfield wall into a double. He slid, left foot-first, and was tagged out. "It was the first time I slid in a long time, like that, in a game," he said. "The same quad bothered me a little bit last week. But I think it should be OK. I recovered nicely last week and I should recover nicely this week."
He went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter for the RailRiders on Friday and was to play third base Saturday. But after complaining of "tightness" in the quad, he was moved to DH about an hour before the 7 p.m. start. A-Rod said he informed the Yankees of the injury before that game (he was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts) and "they said do whatever you need to do, as long as you get up here."
That process, not surprisingly, has been delayed.