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Hal Steinbrenner has not reached out to Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez reacts at first base after hitting

Alex Rodriguez reacts at first base after hitting an eighth-inning RBI single during the Yankees' 5-4 victory over the Mets. (June 10, 2012) Credit: AP

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. - One of Alex Rodriguez's few remaining supporters within the Yankees organization, even through his darkest times with the team, had seemingly been Hal Steinbrenner. Which is what made it all the more unusual to hear Wednesday that the two had not spoken recently as the Yankees count down to A-Rod's return from the season-long Biogenesis suspension.

"I know that he works hard and I know that he's going to show up in shape," Steinbrenner said during the MLB owners meetings. "I'd be surprised if he didn't. But the questions are just physical questions that none of us can answer because of his age and because of the surgeries."

Rodriguez turns 40 in July, hasn't played in the majors since 2013 and must deal with two surgically repaired hips. That prompted the Yankees to re-sign Chase Headley to be their third baseman on a four-year, $52-million deal. Under the best-case scenario, A-Rod could be the team's regular DH. But Brian Cashman still needs Rodriguez to show him in spring training that he can hit enough to be in the lineup.

Despite the delicate nature of this new role, and the distraction it may cause, Steinbrenner had not reached out to A-Rod to gauge his feelings on the subject.

"I have not spoken to him personally about that," Steinbrenner said. "But it is what it is. We just have to see. We just need to concentrate on keeping him healthy and he needs to concentrate on staying healthy. And we'll go from there. The situation is the situation."

Nova avoids arbitration.

The Yankees announced they had avoided arbitration with Ivan Nova by signing the righthander to a one-year contract, which a source confirmed is worth $3.3 million, the same salary as 2014. Nova, who turned 28 this week, went 2-2 with an 8.27 ERA last year before having Tommy John surgery. He is not expected to be ready by Opening Day this season.

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