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August 20, 2013

A-Rod fighting a two-front war

NEW YORK — Life with Alex Rodriguez breaks down in strange ways for the New York Yankees.

There’s before and after games, and it’s not real pleasant.

“A litigious environment,” general manager Brian Cashman calls it.

Then there are the hours when A-Rod is on the field and at the plate. Between the lines, among the pinstripes, it’s one for all and all for one.

They co-exist in a setting that has few if any parallels in baseball history — a suspended star who is appealing his penalty and provoking his bosses on a near-daily basis.

Hardly a “Field of Dreams” scenario, far from “The Pride of the Yankees.” Instead, the most famous team in the sport is directly at odds with its own guy, who also happens to be the game’s highest-paid player.

Yet when Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster hit Rodriguez with a fastball at Fenway Park on Sunday night — after throwing one pitch behind A-Rod’s knees and two more inside — the New York bench and bullpen immediately emptied to defend him.

“I’m not sure how I would feel if I was on a different team,” said center fielder Brett Gardner, “but Alex is my teammate and obviously we’re glad to have him back in the room and glad to have him back on the field, helping us win ballgames. It got us fired up.”

Gardner was especially riled, barking angry words across the diamond toward Dempster.

At least that’s more than Rodriguez and Cashman are saying to each other.

“I’m not comfortable talking to Alex on this stuff because I feel we’re in a litigious environment. So I am not comfortable anymore talking to him,” Cashman said Sunday. “Hello. Goodbye. And that’s it. Because anything else, I don’t want to be distorted, to be quite honest.”

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