By Chuck Schilken
10:07 AM EDT, July 25, 2013
Alex Rodriguez says he's fine and ready to play baseball. His team, the New York Yankees, disagrees.
It actually might not matter either way if Rodriguez receives a suspension from Major League Baseball for his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, as many people suspect might happen any time now.
The $275-million third baseman hasn't played for the Yankees all season after undergoing hip surgery in January. He had been expected to rejoin the team earlier this week after his minor league rehab assignment ended last weekend.
But an MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain of his left quad, causing the Yankees to keep Rodriguez on the disabled list. ESPN is reporting that sources say A-Rod has informed the team he's willing and able to play this weekend in Tampa Bay.
So he reportedly decided to get a second opinion on the latest injury from Dr. Michael Gross, an orthopedic surgeon with Hackensack University Medical Center. Gross told media outlets Wednesday, "To be perfectly honest, I don't see any sort of injury there.''
He was being perfectly honest -- Gross didn't see an injury. But that might be because the doctor didn't actually see Rodriguez at all, as he later admitted to ESPN New York.
"I spoke with Alex on the phone, and I asked him if he has any pain and he said, 'I don't,' " Gross said. "I said, 'Do you have an injury?' And he said, 'I don't.' He said, 'Would you be willing to say I'm ready to play?' I said, 'No, I'm not willing to say that. I've never examined you. I've looked at your MRI.' But I asked him if you think you are ready to play and he said, 'Yes.' "
These shenanigans did not sit well with Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, who suggested Rodriguez might have been in violation of baseball's collective bargaining agreement.
"I heard via a text message this afternoon from Alex Rodriguez that he had retained a doctor to review his medical situation," Cashman said in a statement Wednesday night. "In media reports, we have since learned that the doctor in question has acknowledged that he did not examine Mr. Rodriguez and that he was not retained to do a comprehensive medical examination of Mr. Rodriguez. Contrary to the Basic Agreement, Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain."
He added: "As always, we will follow the rules and regulations set forth in the Basic Agreement, and will again reevaluate Alex in Tampa tomorrow, as our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so."
Rodriguez, already an admitted user of performance-enhancing drugs during the early 2000s, is one of more than a dozen players MLB has targeted in an investigation for links to a Florida clinic accused of distributing PEDs. He is expected to receive a harsh penalty, with some speculating he could be banned from baseball for life.
Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun was the first to be penalized in the investigation, receiving a 65-game suspension earlier this week.
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