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GM 'not comfortable' with A-Rod

BOSTON -- New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged on Sunday that relations with estranged third-baseman Alex Rodriguez had deteriorated to the point that he now confines his conversation with his highest-paid player to a simple exchange of greetings.

"I'm not comfortable talking to Alex about this because we feel we are in a litigious environment," Cashman said during an impromptu half-hour chat with the media before Sunday night's game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. "Hello and goodbye, that's about it. I'm not comfortable talking to him anymore. I don't want to be distorted."

As if to underscore the point, Rodriguez walked past the Yankees dugout as Cashman spoke, but barely glanced over at his GM as he headed to the outfield to play catch with a member of the Yankees coaching staff.

"These are unique times," said Cashman, who did not disagree when a questioner characterized the team and Rodriguez as "at war."

"It's not just Yankees' management," Cashman said. "He's putting it at the level of our trainers, our medical staff. The organization. The team."

Asked to describe the state of his personal relationship with Rodriguez, Cashman said, "It's probably not in my best interests to characterize it. I had a better one, but at some point it's hard to engage somebody too easily when this stuff is going on."

Cashman said he and Rodriguez had crossed paths at the team hotel on Friday night, but merely exchanged greetings.

"I said hello," Cashman said. "I don't walk by him. He's a member of this team."

But Cashman admitted that the ongoing drama with Rodriguez -- who is not only appealing a 211-game drug suspension but also accusing the Yankees of mismanaging his medical care during last year's postseason and conspiring with Major League Baseball to run him out of the game, and in the process, free themselves of the remainder of his 10-year, $275 million contract, which runs through 2017 -- is detracting from his ability to do his job.

"Is this a distraction? For me, yes," he said. "I can't speak for others but I know it's definitely a distraction for me. I've got a lot of extra work from this stuff. It's very frustrating."

Cashman cited as an example his inability to give an update on the condition of Derek Jeter, currently on the disabled list and rehabbing a calf injury in Tampa.

"There's not much to say other than the fact that I wish we weren't dealing with any of this stuff," Cashman said.

Just over the past three days, Rodriguez has been accused in a story from CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" of having implicated other players, including his teammate, Francisco Cervelli, in the Biogenesis scandal to a sports website on Friday. Then, on Saturday, Rodriguez's new attorney, Joe Tacopina, alleged that the Yankees had misled the player about the extent of his hip injury during last October's playoffs, and claimed that team president Randy Levine had told A-Rod's hip surgeon, Bryan Kelly, "I don't ever want to see him back on the field again."

Levine strongly denied that charge on Saturday and Cashman repeated the denial on Sunday.

"I was on every conference call with Dr. Kelly and Randy," Cashman said. "I can tell you that did not happen."

Cashman said that despite his, and the team's, concerns that anything said to Rodriguez could be used to build a civil case against the Yankees, the team's medical staff would continue to treat A-Rod like any other player.

"Our trainers and doctors will continue to provide the best medical care possible," Cashman said. "That is for Alex as well as anybody else regardless of what they say and what they do. They're going to continue to do that for Alex as well as anybody else on the team. Is it an unusual circumstance? Absolutely. Are any of these people happy with these allegations that continue to get thrown? It's odd. It's odd and it's false, but we still have to go through the motions."

Rodriguez declined to speak to reporters Saturday night regarding the charges in the original story published by the New York Times, saying he had not read the piece, and declined to speak again before Sunday night's game.

Cashman refused to comment when asked if any other Yankee players had come to him complaining that the never-ending drama was becoming a distraction except to say, "I think we have 24 guys in there that are professional and doing everything that they possibly can to try to win games. I think this stuff can be a distraction if you allow it to be, but I think that they're going to rise above that."

Manager Joe Girardi said he had not noticed the controversy causing any problems in his clubhouse, and said he was still able to maintain a normal player-manager relationship with Rodriguez.

"As time goes on, we'll see," he said, "but so far, I haven't seen it."

Cashman did acknowledge that on the field, Rodriguez has been an asset -- he is hitting .279 with one home run and four RBIs since returning to the lineup on Aug. 5. The Yankees, who are 8½ games out of first place in the AL East and 6 games out of a wild-card spot, are 6-6 over that span.

"He has helped us since he's returned despite everything else that's going on," Cashman said. "We tried to get him back as fast as we possibly could because he's by far the best option that we can run out there at third base."

Still, the GM described the situation as negative for the club.

"Listen, none of this stuff is productive," he said. "Being involved with Biogenesis isn't productive. We've never had anything like this. This is my 16th year here, and I've never seen anything like this."