The doctor who examined the MRI on Alex Rodriguez's left quadriceps said he did not see evidence of an injury and said Rodriguez believes he's ready to play. The initial diagnosis by Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad was a Grade 1 quad strain.
"I really didn't give a second opinion," Dr. Michael Gross of Hackensack Medical Center told Newsday Wednesday. "I looked at the MRI and told them I didn't see much that was significant.
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"I spoke to Alex on the phone. He said he feels no pain, whether or not there's a little bit of hemorrhage in the muscle or strain in the muscle, the thing that was most important to me is that he felt no pain. I'm not a radiologist. I examine patients and I didn't examine him. I am the first one to say that. I don't see anything too significant. Is there a minor injury there that I don't see? It's possible. When someone says they have no pain, that to me is the most important thing."
Rodriguez could be facing a lengthy suspension from Major League Baseball for his reported connection to Biogenesis, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Miami under investigation for allegedly distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
Rodriguez, who had hip surgery in January, was scheduled to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in Texas but was sent for an MRI on Sunday after feeling tightness during a rehab assignment. Baseball's Basic Agreement requires players to seek out medical specialists from an approved list after making an official request to their club.
"Contrary to the Basic Agreement," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday night in a statement, "Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain."
Rodriguez reported to the Yankees' minor-league complex in Tampa shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday but remained out of sight to reporters until he departed around 3:30.
"I feel great," Rodriguez said from the passenger side of a Chevy Tahoe. "That's all I've got to say."
Gross, a former Great Neck resident, first talked about the injury on WFAN and said he had Rodriguez's OK to discuss his diagnosis. Gross, who was asked to look at the MRI by one of Rodriguez's representatives, told Newsday he was not paid to review it but did it as a favor to Rodriguez. He said he wasn't asked to speak with the Yankees doctor but said he tried to reach out to Ahmad Wednesday.
Gross, who also operates Active Center for Health & Wellness in New Jersey, was reprimanded in February by the State of New Jersey for hiring someone who didn't have a license to practice medicine and for not properly supervising patient treatment "involving the prescribing of hormones including steroids."
The state ordered Gross to complete an ethics course and another course on how to identify and treat basic issues in blood analyses and physical examinations. He also was asked to pay the state $40,000. The reprimand is being appealed.
"I was reprimanded for having somebody work for me that wasn't being well supervised," Gross said. "It has nothing to do with my practice of medicine and that's that . . . We did prescribe hormones for men with low testosterone. We did not prescribe any growth hormones and A-Rod was never a client."
Gross did not examine Rodriguez, which he described as a "limitation" to ESPN Radio, though he said he was trying to set up an in-person examination.
Joe Girardi told reporters in Arlington, Texas, where the Yankees continued their four-game set against the Rangers Wednesday night, that he hadn't spoken to Rodriguez.
"I don't really have anything for you with that," he said. "I'm not there and I'm not privy to all the conversations."
Asked if he expects Rodriguez, who will turn 38 Saturday, to be in the lineup by the weekend, Girardi said, "No I don't. But we'll just wait and see what happens."
Rodriguez will be re-evaluated Thursday in Tampa, according to Cashman.
"Our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so," Cashman said.
Curtis Granderson, also rehabbing in Tampa, saw Rodriguez at about 11:15 a.m.
"The only thing I saw," Granderson said, "when he was in the locker room the first time, he had a bat in his hand, he was ready to hit, but they wouldn't let him hit yet because he had to do something, I don't know exactly what. And the next time I saw him he was on his phone."
Granderson said the Biogenesis issue did not come up.
"No one's really said anything about it," he said.
With Joey Knight in Tampa and Erik Boland in Texas