Cashman Says Yankees Aren’t Trying to Delay Rodriguez’s Return

The New York Yankees aren’t trying to delay the return of Alex Rodriguez, General Manager Brian Cashman said in response to a report that the third baseman suspects the team has conspired to keep him sidelined.

“It’s the Yankees’ desire to have Alex return to the lineup as soon as possible,” Cashman said last night in an e-mailed statement. “We’ve done everything to try and accomplish this.”

A doctor retained by Rodriguez questioned the results of a scan and diagnosis by Yankees physician Christopher Ahmad that showed a strained quadriceps muscle in Rodriguez’s left thigh, ESPN reported yesterday. Rodriguez’s doctor didn’t examine the player directly, Cashman said in his statement, attributing that knowledge to media reports.

Rodriguez, who hasn’t played in Major League Baseball this season while recovering from left hip surgery in January, first complained of tightness in his thigh on July 12, when he refused to change his rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Scranton from Tampa, Florida, Cashman said.

Rodriguez complained of tightness again nine days later, prompting the Yankees to send him to Ahmad at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who diagnosed a Grade 1 strain, Cashman said.

Under Article XIII, Section D, of baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, “Prior to undergoing a ‘second evaluation,’ a player shall inform the club in writing of his decision to seek a second medical opinion.” Cashman said in his statement that never happened.

Basic Agreement

“Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain,” Cashman said. “We will follow the rules and regulations set forth in the Basic Agreement and will again re-evaluate Alex in Tampa” today.

The injury, sustained during a rehab stint in Tampa, delayed Rodriguez’s season debut indefinitely, the Yankees said July 21. Rodriguez, who turns 38 on July 27, said in a statement the same day that he was “extremely disappointed” with the result of the scan.

An unidentified person with ties to Rodriguez was cited by ESPN yesterday as saying that the third baseman approached orthopedic surgeon Michael Gross for a second opinion because he wants to play and is ready to play. The person said Rodriquez maintains he’s fit and is being prevented from playing by the Yankees, with the help of MLB officials.

Rodriguez will remain on the disabled list and in Tampa for rest and treatment, Cashman said, though he can no longer play in official minor-league games because the 20-day window for his rehab stint has expired, the team said.

Braun’s Suspension

A 14-time All-Star and three-time American League Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez hasn’t played in the majors since last season’s playoffs, when he batted .120 with three hits and 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats. He was benched at times during the postseason.

The Miami New Times reported in January that Rodriguez’s name appeared on a client list at the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America LLC clinic in Coral Gables, Florida, which was accused of selling performance-enhancing drugs.

ESPN reported in February that Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch injected Rodriguez with banned substances and the network said this month that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig would seek to suspend as many as 22 players without pay for their relationship with the clinic.

Rodriguez, who is fifth on baseball’s career list with 647 home runs, has said he wasn’t a patient of Bosch and otherwise declined to comment on the issue.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player, will miss the final 65 games of the season without pay after three days ago becoming the first player to be banned for connections to Biogenesis.

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