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Brian Cashman apologizes -- sort of-- for comment on A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez stands behind the batting cage before

Alex Rodriguez stands behind the batting cage before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. (April 3, 2013) Credit: AP

Brian Cashman apologized for the tone of the message, but not the message itself.

Less than 24 hours after using an expletive in suggesting Alex Rodriguez leave the updating of his rehab schedule to the Yankees, Cashman said he "regretted" his choice of words.

"You got some raw emotion back on how I felt about having to deal with something I felt was not necessary," Cashman said late Wednesday afternoon.

What Cashman called a "runaway train" of a story started early Tuesday evening on A-Rod's verified Twitter account.

"Visit from Dr. Kelly over the weekend," it said, a reference to the surgeon, Dr. Bryan Kelly, who operated on Rodriguez's left hip in January. "Who gave me the best news -- the green light to play games again!"

Cashman was not pleased, telling ESPNNewyork later that night: "Alex should just shut the ---- up. That's it. I'm going to call Alex now."

Cashman emailed and called the third baseman, who did not immediately respond.

However, Rodriguez, still owed more than $100 million by the team over the next 4½ seasons, pulled aside managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner Wednesday morning at the team's minor-league complex in Tampa, where the third baseman is doing rehab work.

There, Cashman said, the two talked and Steinbrenner delivered a message in a "more professional" way than did the GM, the message being that when it comes to news regarding a player's rehab, that's in the purview of the club to announce, not the player.

It was something Cashman thought had been agreed on in the offseason with A-Rod and his representatives -- that any news would be put out "together," a collaborative effort between Rodriguez and the club.

"It's about managing [information] from the top down, not from the down up," Cashman said.

Of Steinbrenner's conversation with A-Rod, Cashman said: "A message was certainly sent. It was received and reinforced by Hal in a more professional way."

According to a club spokesman, Cashman did speak with A-Rod around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in a conference call with team president Randy Levine.

"It was a constructive, healthy conversation," the spokesman said. "Everybody is on the same page, and we're all going to communicate and work together to get Alex back as quickly as possible. Everybody fully understands the protocol and processes in place. We're all back on track."

A-Rod, still caught up in the Biogenesis scandal and facing a possible suspension by MLB, released a statement late Wednesday morning explaining his tweet, but not apologizing for it.

"I will continue to work hard until my efforts get me back in pinstripes and help my team win," said the statement, released by Rodriguez's publicist. "The tweet was pure excitement about Dr. Kelly's prognosis."

Cashman reiterated Wednesday that A-Rod was "close" to being ready for rehab games but not yet cleared by Yankees doctors. Reports from those who have observed Rodriguez in Tampa generally have been good, especially at the plate as the 37-year-old's power stroke is better than some thought it would be.

But, according to some in Tampa, A-Rod is not moving and running all that well yet.

Still, the publicly stated expectation from the team remains Rodriguez will be back sometime after the All-Star break, on pace to make that return sooner rather than later.

And despite this latest butting of heads between the third baseman and the club, Cashman said the Yankees are "clearly better" with A-Rod than without.

"If Alex Rodriguez is healthy, we want him, and I want him, playing third base for us yesterday," Cashman said. "We're not holding him back, we're not trying to hold him back. But we are obviously taking every step in the process."

Cashman, meanwhile, found himself somewhat chastened by the Yankees' owner, who indicated the GM could have chosen his words better.

"It's not the normal way I conduct myself, clearly, it's not," Cashman said. "But listen, when you're managing something big and you're having to adjust on the run, sometimes you adjust extremely well and sometimes you adjust not as well as you could have, and this would go in the not-as-well-as- you-could-have category. It doesn't change the message."

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