Yanks react to A-Rod allegations

Yanks react to A-Rod allegations

NEW YORK -- The conversations that take place almost daily between Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi, or at least the portions of which the Yankees manager is willing to reveal, are a practice in monotony. The two talk about Rodriguez's rehabilitation from right hip surgery and about his state of mind. Then they hang up, and talk about the same things the next day.

"He's in a good place," Girardi said.

Yet he is also, again, in a precarious place. The recent allegations leaked out of Sports Illustrated reporter Selena Roberts' forthcoming book, "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez," have followed the Yankees home to the Bronx, where on Thursday they opened a four-game series with the Angels.

The Daily News reported Wednesday that Roberts' book, which is due out May 12, suggests that Rodriguez used banned substances while with the Yankees, and that he did so also as a player at Westminster Christian High School in Miami.

Currently rehabbing from right hip surgery at the Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., Rodriguez on Wednesday declined comment regarding those claims. So back in New York City, Girardi spoke for him.

"To me, it seems like a lot of he-said, she-said kind of stuff," Girardi said. "We've been down this road. We're going to move on. Alex has talked about how he's going to move on."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declined comment on the issue.

Rodriguez admitted in February to having taken a performance-enhancing substance from 2001-2003 while with the Rangers. But he has denied doing so with the Yankees.

Roberts, the reporter who broke that story in Sports Illustrated, reportedly claims in her book that teammates attributed some of Rodriguez's atypical physical traits to steroid use, and cites one unnamed Major Leaguer as saying that Rodriguez and former Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown were seen together with human growth hormone in 2004.

Brown denied that claim through his attorney, according to the Daily News.

What's clear is that despite uncertainty regarding Rodriguez's return to the Yankees -- Cashman said that A-Rod would be the designated hitter in another extended spring training game Friday and could play third base either Saturday or Monday -- he could potentially do so within the next two weeks. And when Rodriguez does return, the issues will follow him.

The Yankees have managed to play the first month of this season sidestepping most of the drama surrounding Rodriguez and his admitted steroid use, but they may no longer be able to do so.

"Alex is used to being under a microscope every day anyway," Girardi said. "He's been playing that way in his career for a long time now. I don't think this time's going to be any different."

Girardi also brushed off the allegations that Rodriguez tipped pitches to opponents during some lopsided games.

"You know what?" Girardi said. "Guys have been stealing pitches for years, probably since the 1900s. Guys look for pitchers who tip pitches. There are a lot of things that go on in a baseball game. Did I ever see Alex do it? No I didn't, and that's all I can tell you."

Girardi said that his suggestion for his players would be to avoid the topic altogether -- a strategy they seemed to take to heart prior to Thursday's game.

"I don't really pay attention to that stuff," first baseman Mark Teixeira said.

"He knows how he feels," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "We have no clue."

Girardi, for one, says he is more interested in how Rodriguez is feeling physically. Once A-Rod returns to the Yankees, his team -- for the first time this season -- will be close to complete.

"He's excited to get back," Girardi said. "He's finally getting to do what he loves to do. This has been probably what seems like forever for [Alex], from the last time he played a game till just today. And I know he's really looking forward to getting back with us."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.