On Monday, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said that at times the Yankees have been "disappointed" with their $275 million third baseman, a day after GM Brian Cashman told ESPN's Buster Olney that Rodriguez "probably ... couldn't live up to" the 10-year contract extension the team gave him after he opted out of his original 10-year, $252 million contract following his 2007 MVP season.
Speaking at a press conference to announce Yankee Stadium's new long-term deal to host college football's Pinstripe Bowl, Steinbrenner was asked about Cashman's comments, which he said he did not hear.
"That may be true. It's a big contract," Steinbrenner said. "That's a philosophical argument, I guess. It's a big contract. We all hope he's going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it. How about that?"
A-Rod, is out until at least the All-Star break after undergoing a second hip surgery in January and is currently under investigation by Major League Baseball for his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis "anti-aging clinic" in Miami.
Pressed further on whether Rodriguez had acted like a Yankee, Steinbrenner said, "We'll see. We'll find out when he comes back. I know he's been working hard to come back. He knows what it means to be a Yankee. He knows what we expect of him and he knows what his teammates expect of him."
Steinbrenner was then asked if the Yankees had been disappointed in Rodriguez, who over the past two seasons has averaged 17 home runs and 60 RBIs while posting a .275 batting average.
"There have no doubt been times that we've been disappointed in him and we've conveyed that to him," Steinbrenner said. "He understands that. Look, everybody is human. Everybody makes mistakes. If you've got a guy over the course of 10 years, there are going to be times any of us makes mistakes in that period of time."
During his tenure as a Yankee, in addition to the Biogenesis investigation, Rodriguez was revealed to be a steroid user before the 2009 season. Also, last October, in the midst of a horrendous postseason in which he was benched for three possible elimination games, he was alleged to have flirted with a woman in the stands behind the Yankees dugout, flipping her a baseball in an attempt to obtain a phone number.
Steinbrenner refused to specify whether his disappointment with A-Rod was in regards to on-field performance or off-field behavior, and sidestepped a question about the current state of the MLB investigation into his alleged dealings with Biogenesis, suspected by baseball of supplying players with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
"We haven't been told anything," Steinbrenner said. "He's been in Tampa, he's been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. There's innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven't heard a thing."
Among other topics Steinbrenner addressed was the status of contract negotiations with star second baseman Robinson Cano, who will be a free agent after this season.
"There's nothing new to report," he said. "Something significant, believe me, you guys are going to be the first to know."
Asked how Cano's recent switch from super agent Scott Boras to relative neophyte Jay-Z would change the dynamic of the negotiation, Steinbrenner said, "We had a good relationship with Scott. We'll see. I guess we'll see. We had a good relationship with Scott; it's been a lot of years. My dad certainly had his dealings with him. Scott's been around a long time. It is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that's who we'll be dealing with."
Inevitably, the 43-year-old son of The Boss was asked how his volatile dad would have handled the past week, in which the Yankees were swept by the Mets and dropped two of three to their divisional rivals the Boston Red Sox, dropping to three games off the pace in the AL East.
"He went through a few of these things," Steinbrenner said. "Sometimes he handled them better than others; some of you guys were here. I can't really say. Maybe he would have been fine."
But losing four to the Mets?
"They're the crosstown rivals, there's no doubt about that," he said. "But I concern myself more with the teams in our division. You have to. Does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely."
Overall, however, Steinbrenner said he was satisfied with the performance of his team so far.
"I think a lot of people expected the doomsday scenario," he said. "I didn't think anybody would think we would be three games out of first place in the American League East. I think the team has done well against adversity. The last week has hurt, there's no doubt about it. It's not a fun place to be when you're slumping. But let's try to keep in perspective on the fact that we're still very much in this fight and we're right at the top."