Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Better off without A-Rod?

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Better off without A-Rod?

Article excerpt

Obviously, Alex Rodriguez hasn't figured out he is to the Yankees what Freddy Krueger is to REM-stage sleep - a recurring nightmare.

Team officials have been searching for an exit strategy, hoping the commissioner's office would've taken A-Rod off their hands by now. But no such luck: As of Monday, as he worked out for the first time in Tampa, Fla., Rodriguez was officially back in the Yankees' faces.

A-Rod told reporters he has "unfinished business" from 2012, which, to Yankee elders, is the kiss of death. It's not just that Rodriguez is bringing his declining skills to the Bronx, it's the drama, the need for attention, and mostly, the stink of the Biogenesis scandal.

Senior officials long ago stopped trusting Rodriguez; they're convinced he's disgraced the franchise with his cheating and has taken their money under false pretenses.

That's why the Yankees have been rooting so hard for MLB's investigators while they've zeroed in on Biogenesis' books. Bud Selig is said to be obsessed with bringing down A-Rod and Ryan Braun together. But according to one industry official, the commissioner would like nothing more than to slap a lifetime ban on Rodriguez in particular.

Selig's detectives so far have uncovered nothing actionable that connects A-Rod to performance-enhancing drugs. They've been unable to authenticate or verify any of the documents published in the Miami New Times, even though A-Rod's name reportedly was found on company records 16 times from 2009-12. As long as Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch continues to stonewall and protect Rodriguez - he recently told ESPN he's nothing more than a "nutritionist" - then the Yankees can forget about MLB doing their dirty work.

In fact, the Bombers are now resigning themselves to the growing probability that A-Rod will go unpunished, and sooner or later will be back in pinstripes. The third baseman wouldn't predict when he'll be activated from the DL, but as he shared the field at the Yankees' minor league complex with other teammates on the DL -- Mark Teixeira, Francisco Cervelli, Curtis Granderson -- he nevertheless said it was "pretty exciting" to be able to run, play catch, and hit off a tee.

There are two major questions that will dog Rodriguez until the moment he steps into the batter's box later in the summer. Do the Yankees really need him back? Or more pointedly phrased, aren't they better off without him?

The second line of questions are even trickier: What kind of player will Rodriguez be after his most recent hip surgery?

Even A-Rod is troubled by that mystery, as he admitted to reporters that surgeons were forced to perform a radical reconstruction. "This [procedure] was a lot deeper, a lot more severe," A-Rod said. "It was five anchors and they shaved the bone, which they didn't do any of that [in repairing the other hip] in '09. …

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