ESPN's Wallace Matthews reports that during a Wednesday conference call with general manager Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine, third baseman/social media neophyte Alex Rodriguez admitted that he might not play this year.
"It could be in July. It could be in August. It could be I won't be able to play at all this year," Rodriguez reportedly said.
This development is not in itself significant -- given the seriousness of the procedure that Rodriguez underwent and the cumulative weight of his many injuries these last few years, there was always the possibility of an extended recovery window. In fact, the biggest takeaway may be that the Yankees "sources" who are constantly chattering about Rodriguez may be Cashman or Levine themselves. That's not really a Deep Throat-level shocker, but it suggests the level of animosity for Rodriguez that exists at the highest level of the organization -- something we hadn't been reminded of since Cashman suggested that Rodriguez needed to "shut the f--- up" a long 48 hours ago.
Alas, no one said that Rodriguez could "sit the f--k out," though that's the upshot of the story and might accurately convey the team's feelings on the subject. This bitterness is understandable, but it seems like a classic case of projection. It has been noted many times (not least by me) that for all of the anger the Yankees seem to feel towards Rodriguez, they have nobody to blame but themselves for their present predicament. When a player who is about to be 32 announces that he's opting out of the last three years of his contract and will become a free agent unless you give him a 10-year deal worth $275 million, you simply say, "Thanks for doing us a big favor," tip your cap, and throw a party.
What you don't do is roll over and sign that player until he's 42 years old. Mariano Rivera aside, you don't sign anybody until they're 42, even if it means you have to give up on some good thirtysomething years before that. If your mother is 31 and asks you for a 10-year contract extension, you should think hard about it. Sure, she's been a good mom to this point, but it's likely all downhill from here, with increasing pharmaceutical bills and nagging about your homework.
Maybe the A-Rod deal hasn't been what the Yankees thought they were getting -- a .300 hitter with 50 home-run power who plays 150 games a year-- but that's on them, not on Rodriguez, and would have been regardless of whether Rodriguez partook of banned substances or not.
Or maybe the sources aren't Cashman or Levine (or their wives, or their wives' cousin's friend) but just some disgruntled hot-dog vendor who doubles as Cashman's confidant and informal psychotherapist. Either way, the interesting contradiction here is that it was Rodriguez's "Woo-hoo! I've been cleared to play and go Brahma bull-riding!" that set off the whole STFU contretemps in the first place. If Rodriguez is unsure of the real outcome, why risk seeming like you're trying to circumvent Cashman's prerogatives with a falsely exuberant tweet?
Other than that, there's little news here. A-Rod might play this year, he might not -- he's day to day, just like the rest of us. The one thing that isn't day to day is his capacity for mangling his communications with the public and with the Yankees as well. That's consistent, ongoing, and also not news.