Posted by ESPN's Kelly Naqi
NEW YORK -- Shortly after Yankees manager Joe Girardi settled into his chair for his pregame news conference in front of 38 members of the media Thursday afternoon, he smiled. Girardi didn't seem at all surprised when the first question posed had to do with new allegations regarding a soon-to-be-released book about Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez and not his team's opponent, the Los Angeles Angels.
Girardi was clearly aware of the report in Thursday's New York Daily News, claiming the book "A-Rod, The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez" (to be released May 4) contained details that Rodriguez:
Used steroids in high school, according to a high school teammate;
Was suspected of using steroids by at least two unnamed Yankee teammates in 2005;
Was seen together with Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown with human growth hormone in 2004;
Was suspected by Yankees management of using banned substances, according to an anonymous clubhouse source.
"To me, it seems like a lot of he-said, she-said kind of stuff," Girardi said. "We've been down this road, we're gonna move on. Alex has talked about how he's gonna move on, and, to me, the focus about Alex Rodriguez is he had eight at-bats today, he was 1 for 5 with three walks, and we're moving on."
When asked if this would be another A-Rod-related distraction for his team, Girardi didn't hesitate.
"There's an easy way for players not to make it a distraction: All they have to say is 'there's no comment,'" he said matter-of-factly. "They've been down this road before where there is things that come up in 'Yankeeland' that a lot of people want to talk about, and players don't necessarily want to talk about it. They do have practice in these deals and obviously, I'll watch to make sure it's not a distraction, but I don't see it being a distraction."
Yankees GM Brian Cashman declined to comment on the report, but the players I spoke with in the clubhouse seemed genuinely unaware of the latest A-Rod allegations.
"I've been playing with my kids all morning, then have been watching the YES Network," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "I haven't heard anything."
"I hadn't heard any of this, and I'll bet more than half of these guys don't even know," said Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia, his arm sweeping the width of the locker room. "I don't think it will affect the team. We're excited he's close to getting back. We hope he'll be healthy and help us when he gets back in the lineup. That's my main concern."
When told of the anonymous sources that some of the new allegations are attributed to, Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher said, "Where are the names? Anyone can have a friend that said they did stuff. The key word to know here is 'alleged.'"
"My only thoughts are they are allegations," Teixeira said. "This team is used to outside distractions. The only thing we care about is what happens between the lines."
Girardi said he spoke with Rodriguez on the phone Thursday afternoon but declined to say if they discussed the latest allegations.
"Alex is used to being under a microscope every day anyway," Girardi said. "He's been playing that way in his career for a long time now. You don't necessarily expect this time to be any different when he comes back, just because he's been on the DL for a little bit.
"I know he is really looking forward to getting back with us."
Kelly Naqi is an ESPN bureau reporter based in New York.