BOSTON - Alex Rodriguez, in his own way, fired back at Brian Cashman on Sunday.
Meaning, not at all.
"I'm just happy to be playing baseball," A-Rod said before going 1-for-5 Sunday night in the Yankees' 8-5 win over the Red Sox. "Honest, I'm in a good place. A year ago, I wouldn't be dreaming to be talking to you guys about playing baseball and enjoying the game so much."
Cashman created headlines Saturday when he indicated -- although he didn't say it outright -- that even though A-Rod tied Willie Mays with 660 home runs Friday night, the Yankees will not be making the $6-million payment that is a part of a marketing contract signed with the club in 2007.
The Yankees consistently have said as much behind the scenes, and told Rodriguez the same during a private meeting in February, but they had not come close to treading where Cashman did Saturday.
"We have the right, but not the obligation, to do something -- and that's it," Cashman said Saturday after A-Rod tied Mays for fourth place in baseball history. "It's not 'you do this and you get that.' It's completely different. If we choose to pursue something, we'll choose to pursue it. If we choose not to, it's our right not to. And that means in both cases we're honoring the contract."
The Players Association already has said it sees the issue far differently. "The union is prepared to intervene on Alex's behalf," spokesman Greg Bouris told Newsday's Steven Marcus on Saturday.
It all appears destined for a showdown in front of an arbitrator, but Rodriguez, who twice called the potential kerfuffle "family business," said it isn't and won't be a distraction.
"I haven't given it much thought. My focus is, you know this guy Kelly throws 98 tonight, and I'm almost 40 years old," Rodriguez said of Boston's starter Sunday night, Joe Kelly. "So I better be focused."
Would the old A-Rod, the one from 2013 who engaged in open verbal warfare with the club, have engaged on this topic?
"The old me," he said with a laugh, "is gone."
With David Lennon