Seemingly days away from rejoining the Yankees, Rodriguez injured a leg last weekend and was sent to New York for an MRI on Sunday. Team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad diagnosed a grade 1 strain, the least severe level.
Dr. Michael Gross, the orthopedic director of The Sports Medicine Institute at Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center, was retained by Rodriguez and said on WFAN on Wednesday that he examined an MRI and could not detect an injury. Gross, who never examined Rodriguez personally, was reprimanded this year by New Jersey's board of medical examiners over steroid prescriptions, fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs.
Rodriguez was re-examined Thursday by Dr. Daniel Murphy, the Yankees' orthopedic surgeon in Tampa, Fla., who confirmed Ahmad's diagnosis. Cashman said Murphy determined there was "clearly some improvement."
Yankees President Randy Levine and Cashman got on a 15-minute conference call with Tim Lentych, the head athletic trainer at the player development complex in Tampa; Rodriguez; and Jordan Siev, co-head of the U.S. commercial litigation group at Reed Smith, a law firm used by A-Rod pal Jay-Z.
"Just want to make sure that everything is documented properly," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez's statement infuriated Yankees management, which already had told him it determines his return schedule.
"I think the Yanks and I crossed signals," the three-time AL MVP said in the statement issued by spokesman Ron Berkowitz. "I don't want any more mix-ups. I'm excited and ready to play and help this team win a championship. I feel great and I'm ready and want to be in the lineup Friday night. Enough doctors, let's play."
Rodriguez, who turns 38 Saturday, earns $153,005 each day during the season, and while he remains on the disabled list much of the money is covered by insurance.
Rodriguez has hit .200 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games. About a week before he began the injury rehab assignment on July 2, Rodriguez tweeted that the surgeon who operated on his hip "gave me the best news - the green light to play games again!"
Cashman memorably responded: "Alex should just shut the ... up."
Rodriguez said he'd like to rehab with the major league team, as captain Derek Jeter is doing as he comes back from a quadriceps injury.
But the Yankees seem to regard A-Rod as toxic.
"Obviously, I'm an employee," he said. "I have to follow my bosses."