David Lennon David Lennon has been a staff writer for

David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.

He was named one of the top 10 columnists in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2014 and also took first place in that category for New York State that same year.

Lennon began covering baseball for Newsday as the Yankees' beat writer in 1995, the season the Bombers snapped a 14-year playoff drought by becoming the American League's first wild-card team. Two World Series rings later, Lennon left the Yankees' beat after the 1998 season, bounced between the Bronx and Shea for the next three years, then took over on the Mets for the demise of Bobby Valentine in 2002. He became Newsday's national baseball writer in 2012.

Lennon also is a Hall of Fame voter, a former Chairman of the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America and co-author of "The Great New York Sports Debate."
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TAMPA, Fla. - Alex Rodriguez had been back in pinstripes, or at least the uniform pants, for roughly five hours Thursday before the Yankees reached their breaking point on A-Rod questions.

We don't have the exact time, but it was after the team's first full-squad workout at Steinbrenner Field, during Brian Cashman's impromptu news conference held only a few feet from Rodriguez's locker.

For the majority of the 11-minute interview, Cashman was pleasant enough while volleying with reporters over every aspect of A-Rod's return. But the frustration began to leak through when someone asked him if he is "happy'' about Rodriguez being back, if it's "better'' that A-Rod is here.

Cashman first opted for diplomacy. "I'm not going through all that stuff,'' he replied.

But when the very next question again veered into the potential "awkwardness'' of A-Rod now playing nice with the same people he has been at war with, Cashman reached his fill.

"I don't really want to talk about the Alex stuff like this anymore,'' Cashman said. "I mean, at some point, hopefully, you guys can let it go, too. I think most of this stuff has been asked of me already. I don't feel like dealing with it too much longer.

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"I feel like we're back in our normal routine, our normal setting -- batting practice, infield, games will start soon.''

Life with A-Rod never will be normal, but we sympathize with Cashman. Believe it or not, the general manager has plenty of other things to worry about on a $209-million Yankees team that many believe won't make the playoffs for a third straight year.

Three-fifths of his rotation, including CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka, is in danger of not surviving the season. His $180-million first baseman, Mark Teixeira, thinks that removing gluten from his diet will restore his 30-homer, 100-RBI status. The renovated bullpen has two closer candidates with a total of two career saves between them. Will Didi Gregorius melt under the bright lights in the Bronx?

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These are real, legitimate headaches that Cashman will be saddled with from now through September -- if the Yankees manage to stay in the playoff race that long. Maybe he should prefer the tabloid-y talk about A-Rod rather than be pressed on his roster's glaring weaknesses, but enough is enough.

Cashman has been poked and prodded so much on A-Rod during the past six years -- don't forget his first PED escapade in '09 -- that he'd gladly opt for a different flavor of poison. "I just don't want to talk about the same stuff that I feel I covered already,'' he said. "I feel like I've been there, done that, so that's like we're going back to stuff that's already been asked, which I feel is a waste of time. And I don't feel like wasting my time.''

It's very possible that this whole A-Rod comeback is a $61-million waste of everyone's time, judging by his repeated attempts to lower expectations after his first workout with the team. Rodriguez again talked about how hard it is to return after a year away from the game and stressed the need for patience in evaluating him.

But New Yorkers aren't an especially patient breed, and that includes reporters, who are going to chew this A-Rod redemption story to its marrow. And we can't see a fairy-tale ending here. Deep down, neither do the Yankees.

Before Cashman set up shop in the clubhouse, it was Joe Girardi's turn to face the A-Rod interrogation. He also deftly fielded every question, just as he has from the moment Bud Selig first lowered the boom on Rodriguez.

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But happy about his return? That took a little maneuvering by the manager. "I don't understand what kind of question that is, to be honest,'' Girardi said. "He's a player of ours -- of course I want him back.''

It's been a while, but yes, A-Rod is a Yankee again. And this was the start of a strange dance between the two sides that is likely to get more bizarre in the weeks ahead. There's no stopping that. The club's only strategy here is containment.

A-Rod doesn't necessarily have to define their season, but Cashman is going to need a lot of help changing the conversation.