Alex Rodriguez's already strained relationship with the New York Yankees hit another low on Thursday when he pushed to be activated from the disabled list, the team refused and he had a lawyer join the discussion of his injury rehabilitation.
Already a target of Major League Baseball's drug investigation, the third baseman angered the Yankees when he obtained a second medical opinion on his strained left quadriceps this week without informing the team in writing, a step required by the sport's collective bargaining agreement. The Yankees intend to discipline him, most likely with a fine.
"Do you trust the Yankees?" Rodriguez was asked during an interview on WFAN radio.
He responded: "I'd rather not get into that. I'm just frustrated that I'm not on the field tomorrow."
Sidelined since hip surgery in January, Rodriguez issued a statement early Thursday saying he wanted to be activated for Friday's home game against Tampa Bay
"The Yanks and I crossed signals," the three-time AL MVP said in the statement. "I don't want any more mix-ups. I'm excited and ready to play and help this team win a championship. I feel great and I'm ready and want to be in the lineup Friday night. Enough doctors, let's play."
But that wasn't in the Yankees plans.
"He'll continue tomorrow with some light conditioning, and then expand to more functional work from the 27th through the 31st," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Our hope, as well as Alex's hope, without any setbacks or new complaints, that would put him in a situation to have either a simulated game or a rehab game on Aug. 1."
A-Rod was upset with the delay.
"I'm very, very disappointed," he said. "I know I can help my team. I'm frustrated but I agreed to this five-day plan, and on we go."
Whether he gets back on a big league field any time soon or ever plays for the Yankees again remains to be seen.
MLB has been investigating Rodriguez as part of its probe of the closed Biogenesis clinic in Florida , accused in media reports of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. A suspension appears likely, but Rodriguez could ask the players' association to contest a drug penalty — making it possible he might not have to serve any time until next year.
He is among the dozen or so players under investigation by MLB; he has said in the past that he used PEDs from 2001-03 while with Texas but maintained he has not used them since.
Rodriguez independently sought out a second opinion on his thigh strain, consulting Dr. Michael Gross, the orthopedic director of The Sports Medicine Institute at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center.
Gross said on Wednesday that he examined an MRI and could not detect an injury. Gross, who never examined Rodriguez personally, was reprimanded this year by New Jersey's board of medical examiners over steroid prescriptions, fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs.
Rodriguez was re-examined Thursday by Dr. Daniel Murphy, the Yankees' orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed the initial diagnosis. Cashman said Murphy determined there was "clearly some improvement."
Yankees president Randy Levine and Cashman had a conference call with Tim Lentych, the head athletic trainer at the player development complex in Tampa; Rodriguez; and Jordan Siev, co-head of the U.S. commercial litigation group at Reed Smith.
Rodriguez is baseball's highest-paid player with a $28 million salary this year and is owed $86 million more in the next four seasons. He sounded like a man who anticipated having to fight for his money.
"Just want to make sure that everything is documented properly," he said.
Rodriguez has hit a mediocre .250 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games. About a week before he began the injury rehab assignment on July 2, Rodriguez tweeted that the surgeon who operated on his hip "gave me the best news - the green light to play games again!"
Cashman responded: "Alex should just shut the ... up."