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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

For Yankees, A-Rod drama is stranger than fiction

For Yankees, A-Rod drama is stranger than fiction

For Yankees, A-Rod drama is stranger than fiction

ARLINGTON -- Someday, Alex Rodriguez almost certainly will have his own reality show. He'll be perfect because no one is better at crafting a view of the world that's both unique and bizarre and occasionally entertaining.

Best of all, there'll be an endless supply of fresh material because no one is better at calling attention to himself or delivering a fresh angle for every news cycle.

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One day, he's the bad boy defying his bosses. Another day, he's the poor little rich guy, misunderstood by everyone. In between, there are beautiful girlfriends and a lavish lifestyle and all the rest.

Who wouldn't want a peek into this world?

So while his career with the Yankees seems to be careening to an ugly end, there's an entire other world awaiting our Alex. Maybe these last few years have been a rehearsal for his next career.

Otherwise, there's no explanation for his behavior. He can't get it wrong so often without really trying. If you can't buy that theory, you're going to have trouble buying into these last few years with the Yankees.

All that's absolutely clear is that the Yankees have had enough of him. Not just the lack of production. Not just the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs and his alleged involvement with a South Florida distributor. Not just the assorted moments of bad behavior through the years.

With a probable Biogenesis suspension hovering over his head, $95 million remaining on his contract and with the Yankees suffering from what seems to be a clear case of Rodriguez fatigue, the relationship between this player and his team appears to have run its course.

Whether it'll end by suspension or by Rodriguez acknowledging that he either can't continue his career or has no desire to continue his career, there clearly are irreconcilable differences.

All that remains is drawing up the papers and getting everyone to sign off on the details. That, my friends, could take awhile.

The Yankees still say they'd like to get him back on the field even as Major League Baseball gathers evidence to support a suspension.

He simply wasn't a good fit, not even when he was still a terrific player. The Yankees are about winning.

There are no sideshows with this generation of Yankees. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have a combined 38 seasons with the Bronx Bombers, and neither of them has ever uttered a controversial quote or been a distraction.

They believe the focus should be on the field and that Yankees should conduct themselves a certain way. That is, show up on time, play hard, win, let their actions do the talking.

Rodriguez seemingly never could buy in. He has always been a man unto himself, a man with an agenda of his own.

Let's begin with these last few days.

The Yankees asked him to play a Minor League game at Buffalo earlier this month, seemingly one of the final steps in his recovery from offseason hip surgery. And this is where the latest Rodriguez drama began.

Rodriguez said he could not because his left leg was bothering him. Was his leg really bothering him, or did he simply not feel like a trip to Buffalo? With Rodriguez, you have to ask.

More recently, he told the Yankees he was still hurting, and they sent him for an MRI that revealed a mild strain of his left quad. Therefore, the plan to have him play his first regular-season game of 2013 this week against the Rangers was scrapped.

At that point, there seemed to be no dispute.

Rodriguez said he was hurting. The Yankees confirmed the source of his pain through an MRI.

Simple, right?

If only.

First, unlike Jeter, who has the same injury and is working out with the Yankees, A-Rod was sent to Tampa, Fla., for rest and rehabilitation.

At some point, he apparently decided he didn't like the diagnosis of a Grade 1 sprain of his left quad. Or he thought the Yankees weren't being honest with him. That it would even come to this kind of disagreement speaks volumes about how much Rodriguez trusts his bosses.

So he sent his MRI to another doctor.

Now it gets really bizarre.

The doctor goes on the radio on Wednesday and says A-Rod isn't hurt. At least, he doesn't see an injury on the MRI.

The Yankees reacted with a carefully crafted statement from general manager Brian Cashman, who gave a tick-tock of events as he knew them and also pointed out that seeking a second opinion without informing the team is a violation of baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Cashman said the Yankees would examine Rodriguez on Thursday morning in Tampa, then decide what to do next.

"Our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so," Cashman said.

The Yankees emphasize that they're not trying to keep Rodriguez away until the Biogenesis suspension is delivered and say he would have been in uniform by now if he was able to play.

Here's the strange part. Even a diminished Rodriguez probably can help the Yankees. They've somehow stayed in contention despite being gutted by injuries.

It's never that simple with Rodriguez. He doesn't trust the Yankees. The Yankees don't know what he'll do next, or how much longer he'll even be allowed to play.

What a mess.

Stay tuned.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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