|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
BOSTON -- New York Yankees team president Randy Levine on Saturday challenged Alex Rodriguez to release his medical records to support assertions by Rodriguez's lawyer that the Yankees had misled their $275 million third baseman about the extent of his injuries in the hopes Rodriguez would be unable to play again.
"Alex should put up or shut up," Levine told ESPNNewYork.com in a telephone conversation Saturday afternoon.
Alex should put up or shut up.” -- Yankees president Randy Levine
The New York Times published a story Saturday in which Joseph Tacopina, Rodriguez's new attorney, alleged Levine had told Dr. Bryan Kelly, who was about to perform hip surgery on Rodriguez in January, "I don't ever want to see him on the field again."
"We will put up, mark my words, we will put up," Tacopina told ESPNNewYork.com on Saturday. "[Levine] is always a very big talker, but he is going to be humbled eventually. He is acting in a way that if his bosses and superiors and the Steinbrenner family have any sense of decency, if they are true to what the Yankees' heritage is, they would be appalled with how their president is acting. We will put up."
Tacopina alleged that Levine wanted Kelly to help ensure Rodriguez could not return to the field again so the Yankees could collect insurance on the final $114 million remaining on his contract heading into this season.
"The obvious implication there is if the surgery is not successful, I'm good with that," Tacopina said. "Anyone with a brain can understand the implication of that. It was something that troubled Dr. Kelly so much that he decided to relay it to Alex Rodriguez, his patient."
Kelly further infuriated Levine, according to Tacopina, when he publicly said Rodriguez's second hip surgery had nothing to do with his admitted performance-enhancing drug use from 2001 to 2003.
We will put up, mark my words, we will put up. [Levine] is always a very big talker, but he is going to be humbled eventually. He is acting in a way that if his bosses and superiors and the Steinbrenner family have any sense of decency, if they are true to what the Yankees' heritage is, they would be appalled with how their president is acting. We will put up.” -- Alex Rodriguez's lawyer
"Randy Levine called and just unloaded on him," Tacopina said. "He said, 'You work for us, not him.' "
Tacopina said the Yankees wanted to use the deterioration in his hip because of PED use as a legal means to escape Rodriguez's contract.
"That's nonsense," Levine said of all the allegations. "You can't even respond to a thing like that."
Levine said with Rodriguez's permission, the Yankees would release all of his medical records dating back to Rodriguez's first hip surgery -- March 2009 -- to refute Tacopina's contention that he was not told by the club Rodriguez was unfit to play during last October's playoffs.
"If he really believes that, he should file a grievance for the release of all his medical records," Levine said. "We're willing to release all of them. All he has to do is say yes and we'll release them all for everyone to see."
With one exception: "The only records we don't have are the ones of Alex's treatment by Dr. [Anthony] Galea. They were unauthorized by the club, but now that he's put his medical condition into question, he should put everything out there."
Rodriguez, after the Yankees' 6-1 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday, said he would release the records "when the time is right."
Galea, a Canadian sports doctor who treated Rodriguez and Tiger Woods among others, pleaded guilty in 2011 to illegally bringing drugs, including human growth hormone, into the United States, for which he served a year in jail. Galea, who is not licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., faces similar charges in Canada.
Rodriguez faces a 211-game suspension by Major League Baseball for violations of its collective bargaining agreement and its joint drug agreement stemming from his involvement with Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, a now shuttered Coral Gables, Fla., "anti-aging clinic" that is suspected of having supplied professional athletes with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Tacopina made his accusations a day after CBS's "60 Minutes" published a story alleging a member of Rodriguez's "inner circle" had implicated other players, including his teammate, Francisco Cervelli, in the Biogenesis scandal by leaking documents to Yahoo! Sports.
Tacopina said Rodriguez's legal team is focused on his client's arbitration hearing, is upset with the leaking of stories, including the "60 Minutes" report. He said he only made his statements on Saturday because they are not going to be pushed around in public perception.
"They are going to get pushed back," Tacopina said.
Tacopina said he has emails between Levine and Rodriguez to back his claims.
"He has either forgotten what he has written or he has sense of bravado that is something that is going to come back and make him look very foolish," Tacopina said. "I'm not going to go into what is in those emails. ... I assure you that Randy Levine does not want these emails released because they are not fitting of the president of the New York Yankees."
Levine said he was willing to release all the emails between himself and Rodriguez.
"They will show that I've been one of Alex's biggest supporters," he said.
"Everything I did was to help him to be a leader, better player and a better person."
Rodriguez is focused on helping the Yankees win and not his relationship with Levine. He's also not worried about whether the Yankees have his best interests.
"It's business as usual with me," Rodriguez said after Saturday's game. "I have a job to do and that's to go out and play third base and do the best I can, and I'm doing that right now.
"I'd rather not get into all that (relationship with Levine). I think there will be a time and a place for all of that, and that time is not right now.
"I can't speculate for what their thought is. I know I've been here for 10 years. We won a championship. There have been some ups and downs, but I'm happy about where the team is right now. I think we have an opportunity to hopefully get to the postseason. That's our goal."
Levine characterized this latest story as a smokescreen thrown up by Rodriguez's camp to obscure the real issue.
"It's quite surprising that now Alex needs a new layer toput out reckless, specious and false allegations that only distract from the only relevant question here, the one he refuses to answer: Did he or did he not use performance-enhancing drugs?" Levine said.
Both Rodriguez and Tacopina have refused to answer that question, citing the confidentiality of the upcoming hearing before MLB arbitrator Frederic Horowitz.
Tacopina repeated the allegation that had been made earlier by anonymous sources in the Rodriguez camp to various media outlets: That the Yankees were working in concert with Major League Baseball to keep Rodriguez off the field and thereby void the remainder of the 10-year, $275 million contract extension he signed after the 2007 season.
Levine called the allegation "silly."
"The Yankees didn't initiate this investigation," he said. "And Major League Baseball has not kept us advised of the progress of this investigation. We've been kept in the dark."
Tacopina also alleged the Yankees hid from Rodriguez the results of an MRI taken during the 2012 playoffs that showed a torn hip labrum and continued to use him despite his struggles.
"They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer," Tacopina told The Times.
And on Friday, Rodriguez referred to the improvement in his swing from last year to this year as follows: "I shouldn't have been out there last year."
Rodriguez batted just .200 in seven playoff games last October, going 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts. He was pinch hit for on three occasions and benched for three games, including two potential elimination games.
"All of our treatments of Alex were of the highest caliber and based on his own choices," said Levine, who added the Yankees also would release transcripts of all phone calls between Rodriguez, the team and its doctors.
Tacopina countered, "I'm anxious to meet them in court. I really am. Randy Levine [says,] 'If we continue, all parties will be held accountable.' I'm going to mark his words. I will be more than thrilled to be held accountable for exposing him for what he is and for some of the statements he made. If I say that I have something, I have something. If I say I have emails that are damning, I have emails that are damning. If I say that Dr. Kelly was told something, I have evidence that Dr. Kelly was told something. He'll see who has the last laugh."
Asked if the relationship between Rodriguez and the Yankees was now irreparably damaged, Levine said, "I still think Alex is a good player in a tough situation, and he continues to make the wrong choices in his life. I just wish he would start to make some better choices."