- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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According to a source, Yankees manager Joe Girardi and his beleaguered third baseman had a telephone conversation on Friday that was initiated by Girardi and lasted more than an hour.
"It was a great conversation,"' said the source, who had been briefed on the content of the call by one of the participants. "Joe could not have been more supportive, and Alex could not have been more receptive."
The call was made the same day that it was reported by CBSSports.com that Girardi had made a call to the Yankee Stadium public-address announcer during one of the team's postseason games requesting that A-Rod's name not be announced when the manager sent a pinch hitter up to bat for him, presumably to spare him the scorn of the fans.
According to the source, Girardi made no apologies but reinforced Rodriguez's value to the Yankees lineup and laid out some expectations for his offseason training program.
"I think the team is fully aware that Alex holds all the cards here,'' said the source, referring to Rodriguez's substantial salary -- the Yankees owe him a minimum of $114 million for the next five years -- and full no-trade clause, which makes it highly unlikely they will be able to trade him.
Since he first pinch-hit for Rodriguez in Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles -- Raul Ibanez batted for Rodriguez and hit a dramatic, game-tying home run in the ninth inning -- Girardi has repeatedly fended off questions of whether he expected any blowback from his decision not only to hit for Rodriguez, but to bench him in three of the team's final five playoff games, including two elimination games.
Rodriguez also reportedly flirted with two women in the stands at Yankee Stadium after being removed from Game 1 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, an incident that is said to have incurred the anger of Girardi and other members of the Yankees organization.
On Wednesday, at his first news conference following the end of the Yankees' postseason run, Girardi acknowledged that he might have some work to do this winter to repair his relationship with Rodriguez.
"I'm always worried about whatever move I make, how it affects the club, how it affects a player, anything," he said. "I think it's something that, sure, I possibly might have to deal with more than I expected, but I possibly might not have to deal with it at all. As we move forward, I'll get a temperature on it, keep track of it and see how it's going."
By Friday, the manager evidently had determined it was a situation he needed to deal with quickly. According to the source, Rodriguez was receptive to Girardi's call.
"They've got a really great rapport," the source said. "Alex said, 'You're the boss. You've got to fill out the lineup card. You've got to do what you've got to do.'"
Rodriguez batted just .120 (3-for-25) in the postseason.
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