The last time Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talked to Alex Rodriguez was Friday at the team hotel.
They said hello, and goodbye.
“That’s about it,” Cashman said. “I’m not comfortable talking to him anymore. I don’t want to be distorted.”
For nearly 30 minutes before Sunday night’s game, Cashman sat in the visitors’ dugout at Fenway Park surrounded by two dozen reporters.
He swiveled his gray canvas sneakers around in the dirt, spoke with a calm voice, and tried to explained his deteriorating relationship with the disgruntled third baseman.
“I’m not comfortable talking to Alex because I feel we are in a litigious environment,” Cashman said.
Midway through the impromptu press conference, Rodriguez strolled by. He chewed gum, sipped on a medium Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and barely even glanced at the swarm.
It was, perhaps, the perfect illustration of how bizarre things have become for these Yankees.
“Is it an unusual circumstance?” Cashman said. “Absolutely. Are any of these people happy with these allegations that continue to get thrown? It’s odd. It’s odd and it’s false, but we still have to go through the motions.”
Rodriguez is appealing a 211-game suspension imposed by Major League Baseball for violating the joint drug agreement.
Friction intensified last week when Rodriguez’s lawyers publicly criticized the Yankees, including claims they mishandled his medical care.
Rodriguez’s lawyer told The New York Times that the Yankees hid MRI results from the third baseman during last year’s postseason.
“He’s fighting an appeal and he has rights to have his say, but clearly, it’s a lot of extra stuff and frustrations and distractions that we didn’t bring upon ourselves, I know that,” Cashman said. “I can’t speak for others, but I know it’s definitely a distraction for me. I’ve got a lot of extra work from this stuff. It’s very frustrating.”
Rodriguez did not speak to reporters before Sunday’s game. When he jogged onto the field for batting practice, he shouted, to nobody in particular, “Let’s do some [expletive] damage tonight!”
He has been booed, adamantly, throughout this three-game series. And on Sunday, in his first at-bat, Rodriguez was plunked by Boston starting pitcher Ryan Dempster.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi stormed the field immediately, initiating a fiery tirade against plate umpire Brian O’Nora. Girardi was ejected.
Rodriguez got his revenge on Dempster in the sixth by launching a leadoff homer to center field and the Yankees eventually won, 9-6.
“I’m gonna let my lawyers do the talking and I’m gonna do the playing,’’ said Rodriguez after the game.
Earlier in the day, Girardi spoke of his relationship with Rodriguez. He said the two have maintained standard communication.
“It’s different because it’s just baseball,” Girardi said. “And it’s normal for us to just talk about that.”
As the team stretched before batting practice, Girardi walked toward Rodriguez to chat. They laughed at something Girardi said.
Cashman, however, feels wronged.
He was stern with his responses, and only twice offered “no comment” to a question. Those inquiries: “Have you heard from any players who said it is a distraction?” and “Is Rodriguez worth the headache that he is causing the organization?”
When asked about Rodriguez “basically declaring war on Yankees management,” Cashman said: “It’s not just Yankees management. He’s putting it at the level of our trainers, at the level of our medical staff . . . the whole organization.”
Later, Cashman praised the leadership within the Yankees locker room.
“There are guys in that clubhouse that we are counting on to not let interfere what’s going on between Alex and Major League Baseball, and now Alex and the New York Yankees,” Cashman said. “I think we have 24 guys in there that are professional and will do everything they can to win games.”
There are 25 players on an active major league roster.Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilymkaplan.