7/24/2013 7:45 P.M. ET
A-Rod's injury questioned; Cashman responds
By Adam Berry and Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees are clashing over the diagnosis of the third baseman's strained left quadriceps, as Rodriguez has enlisted the help of a new doctor to challenge the opinion that he is not ready to join the big league roster.
In response, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman released a statement on Wednesday that indicated Rodriguez has acted contrary to Major League Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement by failing to inform the team that he was seeking a second opinion.
"Contrary to the Basic Agreement, Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain," Cashman said. "As you know, it is the Yankees' desire to have Alex return to the lineup as soon as possible. And we have done everything to try and accomplish this."
The situation's storyline developed on Sunday, when team physician Christopher Ahmad diagnosed Rodriguez with a Grade 1 strain of his left quad after an exam and MRI in New York. As a result, the Yankees said that Rodriguez would remain on the disabled list and return to Florida to rest and receive treatment.
But on Wednesday, Ahmad's diagnosis was questioned by Dr. Michael Gross, chief of orthopedics of Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J. Gross said on WFAN Radio in New York that Rodriguez had asked him to look over the MRI to offer a second opinion.
Gross acknowledged to WFAN's Mike Francesa that he has never treated Rodriguez in person and only spoke to the third baseman over the phone, but after spending about 20 minutes looking at the image, he saw no reason that Rodriguez couldn't be in the Yankees' lineup.
"To be perfectly honest, I don't see any sort of injury there," Gross said in the radio interview. "I asked him that specifically. I said, 'A-Rod, does anything hurt?' And he said, 'No.' If there's no pain -- to me, as an orthopedist -- that means there's no injury."
Cashman rebutted that claim by saying that Rodriguez has been complaining of "tightness" in his quadriceps as far back as July 12, when Rodriguez refused to fly to Buffalo, N.Y., and join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to avoid a poor weather forecast while playing for Class A Advanced Tampa.
"As early as Friday, July 12, when I suggested to Alex that we move his rehab from Tampa to Triple-A Scranton (at Buffalo), Alex complained for the first time of 'tightness' in his quad and therefore refused to consent to the transfer of his assignment," Cashman said.
"Again, last Sunday, Alex advised that he had stiffness in his quad and should not play on Sunday or Monday. We sent Alex to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for an MRI which evidenced a Grade 1 strain."
As for the violation of the CBA, according to Article XIII, Paragraph D, players must "inform the Club in writing of his decision to seek a second medical opinion" prior to undergoing another evaluation.
Rodriguez offered only a brief statement on Wednesday as he was driven past reporters outside the Yankees' complex.
"I feel great," Rodriguez said, rolling down the passenger window of an SUV. "That's all I've got to say."
Rodriguez then gave the small crowd of reporters a thumbs-up, rolled up the car window and left.
Cashman said that the Yankees will re-evaluate Rodriguez on Thursday in Tampa.
"As always, we will follow the rules and regulations set forth in the Basic Agreement, and will again re-evaluate Alex in Tampa tomorrow, as our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so," Cashman said.
According to Gross, Rodriguez believes he is fully healthy and ready to return to the Yankees' lineup.
"I asked him, 'Do you think you're fit to play?' And he said, '100 percent,'" Gross said. "I'm guessing a guy who's been playing ball his entire life knows his body. If he thinks he's fit to play, that's what he said."
The conflicting reports from the Yankees, A-Rod and his hand-picked doctor further highlight his troubled relationship with the team. In a further twist, The New York Times reported that the Gross was reprimanded earlier this year by the State of New Jersey's Board of Medical Examiners for offenses relating to prescribing steroids.
Last month, Rodriguez and the Yankees publicly disagreed regarding his rehabilitation from offseason surgery on his left hip, with Cashman furiously chastising Rodriguez following a Twitter post that contradicted the team's comments about his recovery.
Rodriguez did not indicate what the next step is in his recovery would be, nor did he share what he did in four hours at the Yankees' complex on Wednesday. Outfielder Curtis Granderson said he and infielder Jayson Nix had a brief conversation with Rodriguez inside the facility.
Granderson asked Rodriguez if he wanted to hit in the batting cages, but Yankees trainers kept him from doing so.
"I told him, 'Hey, we're about to go hit, if you want to come hit,'" Granderson said. "Then, almost like a kid out at recess, they had to stop him: 'No, no, no, you can't go yet. You've got to warm up first.' Which is good. He's eager and ready to get back out there."
In Arlington, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he had not spoken to Rodriguez since Saturday or Sunday and said he would be unable to comment on most of Rodriguez's situation since he has not been privy to the conversations.
Asked if any part of this development had struck Girardi as odd, Girardi leaned back in his chair and sighed.
"I don't know," Girardi said. "I've said it all along, that you hope you get your players back. We want them all back. Until you have them actually playing, I worry about the guys in this room. I do communicate with the guys to see how things are going, but we want everyone back. That's the bottom line. That's why we signed them."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.