NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez’s corner locker in the New York Yankees’ clubhouse is filled with four cardboard boxes of bats, a dozen jerseys, a dangling athletic supporter, two baseball caps and four books.
Rodriguez, who turned 38 Saturday, is something of a cornered man himself these days.
The Yankees consider him a major annoyance, referring to him as Mr. Rodriguez three times in a recent news release.
That tension, however, pales when compared to what’s going on with Major League Baseball. Any time now, Rodriguez is expected to be hit with a lengthy penalty that could put him out of baseball indefinitely or perhaps even permanently.
And MLB’s investigation to possible ties between Rodriguez and a Florida clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs isn’t even the primary source of the deteriorating relationship. The Yankees owe him just under $95 million through 2017, and he’s missed the entire season following hip surgery in January.
After a week’s worth of high drama, second-guessing and radio interviews, it seems Rodriguez is about to be lumped with Yankees who sort of just didn’t fit, failed or just faded away — the Dave Winfield, Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano wing of infamy rather than the Monument Park honor roll of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.
On the day he arrived in February 2004 after the big trade with Texas, the sign board outside old Yankee Stadium proclaimed: “A Rod, Welcome to NY.”
Now the message from the Yankees is pretty much: We don’t want to see you ever again.
During a conference call with management to discuss treatment of his thigh injury, A-Rod insisted on having one of his lawyers on the phone, later saying he “just want to make sure that everything is documented properly.”
Following his third straight postseason flameout, New York appears to be in no hurry for A-Rod to return. Each day’s delay means that much more of his $153,005 daily salary is reimbursed by insurance.
For much of his career, Rodriguez has bristled at playing a supporting role to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, wondering why his teammate receives adulation and he is met with a mixture of antipathy and scorn.
Jeter strained a quadriceps and was allowed to rehabilitate with the major league team.
Rodriguez strained a quadriceps and was sent to the minor league camp in Tampa, Fla., as if he had been a disruptive student dispatched to the principal’s office for a timeout.