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Benching not sitting well with Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez warms up before batting practice before

Alex Rodriguez warms up before batting practice before Game 4 of the ALCS. (Oct. 17, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

DETROIT -- Alex Rodriguez was benched last night for the third time this postseason by Joe Girardi but believes the reeling Yankees could use his bat.

"For me, it's just tough,'' Rodriguez said before Game 4 of the ALCS was rained out. "I love to compete. I really feel in my heart, anytime I'm in that lineup, the team is a better team without a question. So, we'll disagree there today. And I like Joe, I support Joe."

With the Yankees trailing 3-0 in the series and a blog post saying his name was involved in trade talks with the Miami Marlins, A-Rod said that he doesn't want to go anywhere.

"I love the Yankees,'' Rodriguez said. "I love this organization.''

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman characterized as "false" the blog post by political pundit Keith Olbermann claiming the Yankees recently had discussions with the Marlins about trading Rodriguez back to his hometown.

"I've had no discussions whatsoever with the [Miami] Marlins," Cashman said before the rainout. "[The report is] 100 percent false."

Addressing the report again, Rodriguez, who is 3-for-23 in the postseason, said: "Look, there's blood in the water. I haven't played well.

"What I will tell you is that I hope nothing's going on like that at this point because our only focus from the top to the bottom is to win a baseball game tonight."

Olbermann posted the item on his only occasionally updated Baseball Nerd blog, which is affiliated with MLB, yesterday afternoon. Before that there had been just two entries since July 26.

Wednesday's item cited "sources close to both organizations" saying the Yankees would pay all -- or "virtually all" -- of the $114 million A-Rod is owed on the remaining five years on his $275-million deal.

Another Yankees official called the report "absolutely not true," and a person familiar with the Marlins' thinking also said he didn't believe there was anything to it.

One official said the story's origin likely stemmed from some "joking" around that occurred late in spring training, when the Yankees were in Miami to open the Marlins' new ballpark.

The playful exchange took place between Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Yankees president Randy Levine, where the former suggested, with a laugh, that the Marlins should bring A-Rod "home" and the latter concurred.

There's nothing to suggest the topic has come up since, joking or otherwise.

But get used to rumors and speculation about Rodriguez, whose relationship with the Yankees, specifically Girardi, could be irrevocably damaged, though neither says that's the case.

"I think it's good," Girardi said of the relationship. "I don't sense there's a problem. But time's going to tell. The greatest marriages have gone through rocky parts."

Said A-Rod: "He's been very good to me over the years so he has a lot of equity with me.''

Olbermann, meanwhile, has been upset with the Yankees since they removed him as stadium commentator for Oldtimers Day in 2011, a situation he referenced in an update to his original blog post in sticking to his story after Cashman's denials became public.

While there didn't appear to be anything concrete to the report, that doesn't mean the Yankees are against moving Rodriguez, who has a full no-trade clause, and the money owed to him, especially given the mandate from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner to get the payroll to $189 million by 2014. Finding any takers for a declining power hitter and his contract is another matter.

"The contract is a huge snag, but I seriously don't know if the guy has any value, regardless," one opposing team talent evaluator said yesterday. "It's tough to watch."

With Marc Carig

New York Sports