Brian Cashman fires back at Alex Rodriguez's camp, and A-Rod responds
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BOSTON - Alex Rodriguez says the drama generated by the appeal of his 211-game suspension is "not reality TV." But Sunday sure felt like it, from Brian Cashman calling his third baseman a liar to Ryan Dempster drilling Rodriguez with a pitch to A-Rod exacting what he called the "ultimate payback" by crushing a spectacular home run that rallied the Yankees to a 9-6 win over the Red Sox.
The day began with Cashman saying that Rodriguez has created a "litigious environment" around the Yankees unlike anything he has ever seen during his 16 years as general manager. He lashed back at A-Rod, as well as the accusations by the player's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, during a 27-minute dugout session with reporters before Sunday night's series finale at Fenway Park.
The GM said he's no longer "comfortable" talking with Rodriguez beyond "hello" because of the hostile nature of the third baseman's relationship with the Yankees and believes A-Rod has been dishonest in his dealings with the team.
A few hours later, Rodriguez took a few hacks himself. He also confirmed that a medical grievance against the Yankees is being filed with the Players Association.
"At some point, everybody will talk," said Rodriguez, who ran down a list of names that included Anthony Bosch, the Biogenesis founder-turned-informant for Major League Baseball. "I think everybody has to have a little patience. It's not reality TV."
And yet, Sunday was just another episode in this ongoing series. Even Joe Girardi played a supporting role, getting ejected for backing Rodriguez with a furious, expletive-flying tirade against plate umpire Brian O'Nora after A-Rod was hit by Dempster.
Later, the manager said it was a calculated effort by the Red Sox at frontier justice. "This is what they decided to do," Girardi said. "And it's wrong. You don't take the law into your own hands."
In one of the evening's lighter moments, a reporter asked Rodriguez if he thinks Dempster should be suspended for hitting him on purpose.
"I'm the wrong guy to be asking about suspensions," Rodriguez said, drawing laughs from the crowd of media. "But I have a lawyer I can recommend."
Off the field, a different battle continued to rage between Cashman and Rodriguez. After supporting Yankees president Randy Levine, who a day earlier challenged Rodriguez to "put up or shut up" with his assertions of medical mistreatment, Cashman cited the recent example of A-Rod's decision to go outside the team's staff to consult Dr. Michael Gross after telling the GM directly he "had no problem" with the Yankees' doctors.
"How do you handle that?" Cashman said. "I felt like Katie Couric, because I know at that moment of time I was lied to."
Cashman was referring to the 2007 "60 Minutes" interview in which Rodriguez told Couric he had never used performance-enhancing drugs. Two years later, A-Rod admitted that he did take PEDs during a three-year period with the Rangers beginning in 2001.
But Cashman didn't stop there. He insisted that Tacopina's allegations about the Yankees' medical staff are "odd" and "false," with Rodriguez himself "fighting" to stay in the lineup during last year's playoffs.
"It's all factual," Cashman said. "It's in the medical training log. He's got no complaints -- publicly or privately. The bottom line is he wasn't getting treatment for anything. No complaints. Nothing."
When Rodriguez finally did mention some discomfort after Game 3 of the ALDS, it was about his right hip. Cashman said that MRI came back negative for structural damage and he was cleared to play. Three months later, he underwent surgery to repair his left hip.
'He met with Joe [Girardi] separately," Cashman said, "and he was like, 'Don't give up on me. Put me back in there.' Which contradicts his own comments. I see his attorney talking about running him out there 'like an invalid.' I guess he's also lumping Alex in that because, again, I don't get it. He was fighting to play."
When told of Cashman's comments, Rodriguez didn't dispute his desire to be on the field last October, just the condition he was in.
"I was pretty bad though -- you got to admit," Rodriguez said Sunday night. "I think the question wasn't whether I wanted to play. I'm always going to want to play, even if I'm on crutches. But signs are signs. There was a torn labrum MRI."
As for Cashman saying it was the other hip, not the one Rodriguez complained about, A-Rod smiled.
"The MRI is the MRI," he said. "I had a big hole in my left labrum. They shaved the bone and put in five anchors, so it was a pretty significant tear."
According to a report on ESPN Sunday night, Rodriguez paid for Biogenesis founder Bosch's attorney and later made a wire transfer for nearly $50,000 that Bosch's attorney refused to accept, Bosch's attorneys told "Outside the Lines.''
The second transfer, described by one of Rodriguez's former attorneys as a mistake, is part of Major League Baseball's evidence that Rodriguez attempted to tamper with the league's Biogenesis investigation, several sources said. The now-defunct anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., is at the center of the ongoing drug scandal.
A spokesman for Bosch attorney Susy Ribero-Ayala said in a statement to "Outside the Lines'' on Sunday that Rodriguez paid her a $25,000 retainer to defend Bosch in February.
"A retainer was paid [via wire transfer] by a representative of Alex Rodriquez [sic]. Ms. Ribero-Ayala accepted this payment on behalf of Anthony Bosch as payment for his legal representation,'' the statement says.
The statement says the second payment was unexpected.
Cashman spent most of the afternoon defending his entire medical organization -- from the trainers to the orthopedists -- in saying that Rodriguez's accusations were baseless. But even now, it's a potentially dangerous situation with Rodriguez still a member of the team and yet attacking them.
Cashman said A-Rod has declared war on "the whole organization -- the team," so how can he be sure that A-Rod won't find any more ammunition for any future litigation?
"Is this an unusual circumstance? Absolutely," Cashman said. "It's odd and it's false. But we still have to go through the motions. We're stuck right now.
"Due process is important. It can [stink] sometimes, for all of us. I didn't sign up for this. But this is something we're having to deal with."
When asked if any players or other members of the team have complained to him about the Rodriguez havoc, the GM said only, "I'm not going to comment on that."
Cashman also declined to say whether the Yankees would consider it worthwhile just to release Rodriguez rather than continue to deal with the drama. A-Rod is owed roughly $86 million through 2017.
"That's not something for me," Cashman said. "I don't think that's something that would be considered, personally."
Since his Aug. 5 return, Rodriguez has maintained that he wants to focus on baseball, but Tacopina's assault Saturday definitely changed the conversation as the Yankees claw to get back in the playoff race.
"Listen, none of this stuff is productive," Cashman said. "Being involved with Biogenesis isn't productive -- the allegations at least of being involved with Biogenesis. The last thing any of us want is to be dealing with this. It's a unique circumstance."
So unique, in fact, that Cashman found it hard to comprehend the allegations, which he described as "explosive." He also was stunned by Tacopina's accusation that Levine told Dr. Bryan Kelly, the orthopedist who performed A-Rod's January hip surgery, that he didn't "ever want to see him on the field again."
"I was on every conference call with Dr. Kelly, with Randy," Cashman said, "and I can tell you that did not happen."
A-Rod, predictably, didn't agree with Cashman on that one.
"I'm going to reserve comment," Rodriguez said. "I did have a conversation with Dr. Kelly."