Alex Rodriguez denied reports that he purchased and leaked documents that implicated Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and his Yankees teammate Francisco Cervelli in Major League Baseball’s most recent performance-enhancing scandal.
According to a “60 Minutes” report, members of Rodriguez’s inner circle obtained the documents in February and leaked them days after the release of a story in the Miami New Times that outlined Rodriguez’s own PED use.
In response Friday, Rodriguez replied flatly, “It’s not true.”
In a statement to “60 Minutes,” Rodriguez lawyer David Cornwell said, “The allegations are untrue and are another attempt to harm Alex — this time by driving a wedge between Alex and other players in the game.
“While Alex focuses on baseball and repeatedly states that he is going to respect the appeal process, the drumbeat of false allegations continues.”
Rodriguez, who is currently appealing a 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball, said he wasn’t surprised by the latest development in a saga that has cast a pall over the Yankees, in town for a three-game set. They beat the Red Sox, 10-3, Friday night, and are 7½ games behind the Sox in the AL East.
“We’re in playoff baseball right now,’’ said Rodriguez after going 2 for 4 Friday. “Every game means the world to us. We’re trying to stay very focused and collected in here, stay very united no matter what’s thrown at us. Our focus is to win games, that’s the only thing we care about right now.’’
The Rodriguez story first surfaced in April in the New York Daily News . As it resurfaces with the Yankees preparing for a crucial series, Rodriguez questioned the timing.
“It’s just obviously a very tough situation,” Rodriguez said. “Not surprising. I think they reported this like four months ago, but it didn’t get much traction. And here we are at Fenway. Just weird. Weird timing.”
Rodriguez also said he didn’t expect this to be the last time this kind of story comes out as his appeal process continues.
“Let’s make one thing clear,” Rodriguez said. “For the next seven weeks, it’s going to be a very, very bumpy road. Every day, expect a story like this, if not bigger. And after arbitration, with a full platform, and I can tell my full story.
“We’re going to all have to be ready for a bumpy road. It’s going to get worse every day. There’s going to be bigger and bigger stories that come out every day.
“It’s frustrating for the game because the game is going so well. This is a big series. The team is playing really well. We’re excited about playing, obviously, one of the best teams in baseball in Boston. The drips, it’s frustrating that it’s coming out one drip at a time.’’
With the Yankees sitting six games out in the wild-card race entering Friday, manager Joe Girardi dismissed suggestions that distractions from Rodriguez’s situation would affect the team.
“I really believe that this group is good at shutting out distractions and understands what it has to do,” Girardi said. “And it’s always going to be something. I think since this Biogenesis thing has come about, there’s been something every once in a while that comes out that players are asked about. But I think they’re good at moving on and going out and doing their work.”
When Yankees outfielder Vernon Wells heard the news earlier in the day, he said, “I actually read it and I chuckled.”
At the same time, he said, he braced knowing more was on the way.
“Obviously this isn’t a laughing matter, but I don’t think this is the end of it,” he said. “When you have an investigation that’s gone on for months, there’s potential to be so many layers to it. There’s going to be things that are said and things that are written. Some will be true, some won’t be true.”
Players around the league, from Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria to the Red Sox’ John Lackey, haven’t shied away from sharing their opinions — largely negative — about Rodriguez being able to take the field despite being in the middle of an investigation.
Lackey told the Globe Thursday, “I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do. How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right . . . It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him.”
Rodriguez said he intended to talk to several Red Sox, including Dustin Pedroia, Jonny Gomes, and David Ortiz.
“It’s frustrating, because I’m a human being,” he said. “I belong to a union and I’ve been a member for 20 years. I support all my teammates whether you play in Boston or the Diamondbacks or the Mets. I love all the members of the union equally and unconditionally.
“I do feel like I have great support. I’ve spoken to a lot of my teammates.
“I plan to speak to Pedey, maybe Jonny Gomes, maybe Papi, so they’ll have a full understanding that this is not true.”
He also said he reached out to Cervelli, who last week was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
“I spoke to Cervelli this morning,” Rodriguez said. “Positive conversation. He understands it’s not true and we’re on the same page.
“When I heard about it four months ago, it was very surprising to me. But the most important thing is I spoke to Cervelli. Cervelli’s like my brother and he fully understands that it’s not true.”
Still, prior to the game, the clubhouse was bursting at the seams with reporters, peppering players with questions about Rodriguez. They remained loyal, but also measured.
“A teammate is a teammate,” Curtis Granderson said. “I trust my teammate.”
Rodriguez has never been a favorite at Fenway, and this latest scandal only stoked the flames; he was booed passionately during introductions and even more so when he stepped to the plate in the first inning.
He acknowledged, “It gets old.”
Rodriguez still has to go before an arbitrator, and a decision is expected in November.
“When I have the right format, the right time, and the time is appropriate — which is not now — I will tell my full story,” Rodriguez said.Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.