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Yankees deny report, say A-Rod's thumb is 'fine'

American League All-Star Alex Rodriguez looks on during

American League All-Star Alex Rodriguez looks on during the MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. (July 13, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

Joe Girardi gave several explanations for why Alex Rodriguez remained on the bench in the ninth inning of Tuesday's All-Star game.

But one of them wasn't that the Yankees' third baseman was hurt.

"Oh, yeah, he's fine," Girardi said Tuesday night.

General manager Brian Cashman said the same Wednesday afternoon, contradicting a morning report on SI.com that stated A-Rod didn't play because of a sore right thumb.

"It has nothing to do with health," Cashman said.

Quoting a team source, the report said the Yankees didn't "want to push it" with the thumb.

Cashman called Girardi Wednesday to ask about the report and Girardi said A-Rod's thumb was sore but not prohibitively so.

"He was healthy and could have played," Cashman said shortly after attending the wake of longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard in Baldwin. "[Girardi] said the thumb was a little sore the last couple of days but not to the extent of concern. Just something [typical] from the grind of playing every day."

Cashman said Girardi, who was criticized the day after for not using A-Rod in the ninth as a pinch hitter or at least as a pinch runner for the lumbering David Ortiz, told him Rodriguez swung the bat just fine during pregame batting practice.

"Girardi said he was launching home runs in batting practice and that the game dictated him not getting in," Cashman said. "It was a manager's decision whether he played or not. It has nothing to do with health."

Cashman said he asked Girardi point blank about the report saying the thumb was the reason A-Rod didn't get in and the manager responded: "That's not true."

The Yankees have been monitoring A-Rod's health all season, particularly after he took himself out of a game June 10 in Baltimore complaining of "stiffness" in his right groin, which was later diagnosed as hip flexor tendinitis. Rodriguez missed four games and then his power numbers increased since he returned June 16, hitting six of his 14 home runs.

Rodriguez enters the second half hitting .269 with a .345 OBP - far below his career averages of .304 and .388 - but he's driven in a team-best 70 runs.

Speaking briefly after the Yankees wrapped up their first half in Seattle, Rodriguez made no mention of a sore thumb and called his first half "crazy."

"I feel like a golfer," Rodriguez said. "I've been spreading the ball all over the golf course; in the woods, in the water, and somehow I've been making par-saving putts and saved some rounds here and there. But I certainly feel like I'm getting healthier and stronger and I think not only myself but the team is going to do a lot better offensively in the second half."

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