Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Rodriguez's Denials Put Yankees' Patience to Test ; Latest Report Linking Him to Doping Just Adds to Mistrust and Discontent

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Rodriguez's Denials Put Yankees' Patience to Test ; Latest Report Linking Him to Doping Just Adds to Mistrust and Discontent

Article excerpt

While New York can blame no one else for giving Alex Rodriguez a huge contract, the latest report linking him to performance- enhancing drugs continues to erode his image.

The New York Yankees had dated Alex Rodriguez for four years before popping the question after the 2007 season: Will you take this 10-year, $275 million contract? Rodriguez said yes, and together they have had some fun. But a marriage that starts with a lie is bound to fall apart, and that is what has happened.

Rodriguez's contract, which now strangles the Yankees' future, might be the most lucrative con in baseball history. It colors everything about him. The revelation Tuesday in the Miami New Times newspaper, which tied him to a supplier of performance-enhancing drugs as recently as last season, was another reminder of his deceit.

The relationship might be over soon. Rodriguez's latest public- relations firm (he has had several) issued a statement Tuesday in which he denied being a patient of the shuttered anti-aging clinic described in the story. But baseball is investigating, and with good cause; three of the players named in the report -- Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal -- were suspended last year after positive drug tests.

The results of baseball's investigation, in theory, could help the Yankees if they attempt to void Rodriguez's contract. That would not be easy -- the Yankees failed to do it with Jason Giambi -- but there may be another exit strategy.

The Yankees have continued to emphasize the seriousness of Rodriguez's hip injury, with the general manager, Brian Cashman, asserting last week that it could keep him out all season, not just for the first half. The natural next step in that progression is that the injury would end his career, as it did for Albert Belle of the Baltimore Orioles in 2001. That would allow Rodriguez to collect his money -- but with insurance, not the Yankees, covering most of it.

That is the dream outcome, anyway, but for now the Yankees are still obligated to pay Rodriguez for the five years and $114 million remaining on the deal they gave him before they knew of his chemical past.

That folly is mostly on the Yankees, of course. Hank Steinbrenner had assumed command that fateful winter, vowing to cut Rodriguez loose after he opted out of his contract. Instead, he rewarded Rodriguez with the richest deal in baseball history, even though no other team was known to be bidding, say, nine years. In retaining Rodriguez, the Yankees also passed on a much younger third baseman, Miguel Cabrera, who was traded to Detroit and now annually knocks the Yankees from the playoffs.

It is an amusing footnote that Rodriguez's contract was officially announced on Dec. 13, 2007, the day Major League Baseball released the Mitchell Report on steroids. Rodriguez, who had always denied steroid use, was not named in the report. Part of the reason for the length of the deal was the presumption that he was clean and would chase Barry Bonds's tainted home run record in pinstripes. …

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