Commentary

Yankees again paying price for A-Rod

They nurtured Alex The Grate, so Bombers must share blame for Twitter turmoil

Updated: June 26, 2013, 2:17 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has a Twitter account. What could possibly go wrong?

I mean, what could really happen? Could he damage the wonderful relationship he has with his bosses on the Yankees? Might he alienate the one or two people who were not screaming for his head last October as the Yankees went down the drain in the ALCS?

[+] EnlargeRodriguez
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaAlex Rodriguez and the Yankees are stuck with each other.

Could he do something silly like, say, post a photo of himself kissing his own reflection in a mirror? (Oh, wait a minute ... )

The answer, of course, is that everything will go wrong, because that's just A-Rod being A-Rod, and nothing will happen to him, because nothing ever does.

Rodriguez ticked off his GM Tuesday night by tweeting that his hip surgeon, Dr. Bryan Kelly, had cleared him to start playing games again.

Believe me, this is not the first time he has ticked off Brian Cashman, and barring some unforeseen circumstance in which the Yankees are able to slip the noose off the remaining five years of his contract, it most certainly will not be the last.

Face it, the Yankees and A-Rod are stuck with each other, like two criminals handcuffed together or an unhappy couple who for whatever reason finds divorce out of the question.

It is no secret that the marriage between Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees has been on the rocks since his 2009 admission of steroid use, after it was exposed by the investigative journalistic talents of Selena Roberts.

There have been numerous incidents since that have made it worse, from the poker games to the association with Dr. Tony Galea to the re-emergence of cousin Yuri Sucart to the most recent allegations concerning Anthony Bosch and Biogenesis.

Maybe if the guy could still play -- he was coming off an MVP season in 2007 when the Yankees, over Cashman's strenuous objections, tore up his old 10-year, $252 million deal and gave him an extension and a raise with no one else bidding -- this would be easier for Cashman to swallow.

In all sports and on all teams, production trumps all.

But Alex Rodriguez doesn't produce much anymore, although right now the Yankees will take the relatively anemic numbers he put up last season -- .272, 18 homers and 57 RBIs -- over anything David Adams or Jayson Nix can manage this season.

Still, it has to irk the Yankees that -- again, barring an unforeseen circumstance such as a lifetime suspension, retirement or some other sucker team willing to take on the rest of the contract -- not only will Alex Rodriguez continue to collect fat paychecks from them in return for puny numbers, but in their view he will rub it in their faces every step of the way.

"Every guy in our organization knows better than to announce company business," an exasperated Cashman said by phone Tuesday night. "He has a Twitter account for one day and he causes us nothing but trouble."

The problem for Cashman is that instead of tending to Yankees business, such as searching for replacements for Mark Teixeira and, of course, A-Rod, or even watching Tuesday night's thrilling win over the Texas Rangers, the GM is being kept busy fielding phone calls from reporters.

And trying in vain to reach his third baseman, who once again behaves as if he is a law unto himself.

As of 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, Cashman had not received a reply to an email he sent Rodriguez instructing him to call the office.

"I don't need this," Cashman said. "He has to realize that everything he does impacts somebody else."

And that is the issue in a nutshell, that even 1,200 miles away in Tampa, in the early stages of a rehab program that "might" return him to the Yankees' lineup sometime next month -- or might not -- Alex Rodriguez continues to overshadow his team, whether he intended to or not.

The truth is, Alex Rodriguez is officially "cleared" to do nothing yet, because, as Cashman said, "Dr. Kelly is not in control of Alex's rehab anymore. He does not speak for this organization."

What Cashman was saying is, the Yankees will tell Alex Rodriguez when it is OK for him to play. Not the other way around. After all, they bought him and they can decide when, and if, to use him.

This is not the first time Dr. Kelly has run afoul of the Yankees; before spring training, he spoke to a tabloid reporter against the orders of the club, disclosing details of A-Rod's surgery and rehab, and a day later, repeated his opinions on a conference call with Yankees beat writers.

On that call, Dr. Kelly volunteered, among other things, his belief that Rodriguez's hip injury was certainly not caused by steroid use, but that the injury was most certainly the cause of his horrendous play in the postseason, even though he not only had no idea he was suffering from an injury in his left hip, but suspected the problem might be in his other hip.

So, what Cashman said to ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday night -- that "Alex should just shut the f--- up" -- is something he and other Yankees officials were saying privately about Dr. Kelly a few months ago.

But the truth is, Alex Rodriguez does not have to shut up, as much as the Yankees would like him to.

They are the ones who traded for him, they are the ones who re-signed him, they are the ones who, like every other one of his employers, have allowed Alex Rodriguez to feel and behave as if he not a member of the team, but the guy running it.

The Yankees may not have created this monster, but they adopted it, fed it and nurtured it, and now they have no idea of how to control it. And to top it off, now Alex Rodriguez has a Twitter account.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, of course.

And nothing.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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