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A-Rod prepares to leave Yanks to talk with feds

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez removes

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez removes his batting helmet before a spring training baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays. (March 6, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

TAMPA, Fla. - Joe Girardi had hoped to have Alex Rodriguez play in three games in a row starting last night. But the Yankees manager will have to wait a few days for that.

Girardi confirmed that Rodriguez will not be available to the Yankees Friday. Rodriguez will be in Buffalo meeting with federal investigators looking into his ties with alleged HGH doctor Anthony Galea.

"From what I read and understand, we may not have him on Friday," Girardi said before the Yankees hosted the Nationals in an exhibition game at Steinbrenner Field. "That's all I know."

Rodriguez, in his first appearance at Yankees camp since Sunday, politely told reporters he would only answer "any baseball questions." Since there were none at that time, the session ended quickly with a "thanks, guys" from A-Rod.

Rodriguez was in the lineup last night and will be again Thursdayas the Yankees travel to Sarasota to face the Orioles. Rodriguez was coy when asked if he would be playing baseball the rest of the week: "I'm definitely playing tomorrow," he said, meaning Thursday.

The Yankees host the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field on Friday night. Rodriguez was given Monday off by Girardi - as was Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada - and the Yankees had an off day on Tuesday, so he had not been around since news of his date with the feds broke on Monday night.

Federal authorities investigating Galea have previously interviewed Mets stars Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. The athletes are not believed to be targets of the investigation, just witnesses.

Rodriguez has been mum on his association with Galea, a Canadian doctor who is under investigation in both Canada and the U.S.

Galea told The Associated Press on March 8 that he treated Rodriguez with anti-inflammatory drugs as part of A-Rod's recovery from hip surgery. This was apparently news to the Yankees, who along with Major League Baseball will likely want to quiz Rodriguez after he's done talking to the government.

A-Rod went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs in the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Nationals. He's batting .357 (10-for-28) with one HR and eight RBIs for the spring. He was relaxed and affable before the game, joking with teammates and sitting down for lengthy baseball-only interviews after the initial government-investigation questions were rebuffed.

Unlike last spring, when Rodriguez admitted past use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, the swirl around him has been minor. He has experience dealing with distractions and seems to be able to block them out on the field. Girardi says it's not something he is worried about with Opening Day coming up fast.

"I haven't put a lot of thought into that in the sense that there are no accusations [about] Alex," Girardi said. "It seems to be about somebody else. It's disruptive in the sense that he won't be here Friday, but beyond that I'm not too concerned.

"I'll sit down and talk to him a little bit about it, but I won't get into a whole lot of details, because he's probably not able to give me a lot of details. That's how our system works."

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