A-Rod doesn't believe he is merely battling Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for the right to continue his playing career. The 38-year-old third baseman and his handlers apparently think the Yankees are also be conspiring against him.
During a defiant press conference on Friday, Rodriguez made a vague references to an unnamed party who would benefit from him being suspended following MLB's investigation into Biogenesis and its founder Anthony Bosch. These remarks came shortly after the three-time American League MVP belted a home run for the Double-A Trenton Thunder as he continues to rehabilitate a leg injury.
"There are a lot of layers," Rodriguez told reporters at Arm & Hammer Park. "I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that's not my teammates and it's not the Yankee fans."
The following morning, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN shed some light on who Rodriguez may have been referring to with that cryptic comment. According to Smith, Rodriguez's camp contacted him on Friday to share its impatience with MLB as well as its belief that the Yankees may be pulling the strings behind the scenes.
"Alex Rodriguez's camp has reached out to me personally on several occasions. And in the last 24 hours, they literally reached out to me personally -- right before my interview with Johnny Damon, by the way, on ESPN New York 98.7 FM -- and they said to me, 'What is Major League Baseball waiting for? Where are all these stories coming from about some negotiation has taken place between us and Major League Baseball. It's non-existent.' The real negotiation is going on between the Yankees and Major League Baseball because the Yankees want to get out from under Alex Rodriguez's contract. Which means they want a lifetime ban. And Major League Baseball wants has to make a decision as to whether they're going to acquiesce to the wishes of the New York Yankees or whether they're going to do something else like suspend Alex Rodriguez for 100 to 150 to 200 games"
CLICK HERE to watch entire Smith segment
Sadness and amusement were the reactions of Yankees officials to Rodriguez's comments on Friday, the New York Daily News reported on Saturday.
"This is typical Alex. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, he blames everybody else," an unnamed Yankees official told the Daily News. "It wasn't the Yankees who introduced [RODRIGUEZ] to Anthony Bosch. It wasn't the Yankees who introduced him to Dr. Galea, or anybody else."
MLB has set a Sunday deadline for negotiations with players facing suspension for dealings with Biogenesis connected to performance-enhancing drugs, as reported by Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Earlier in the week, various media reports indicated that MLB could attempt to levy a lifetime ban against Rodriguez if he did not agree to accept a lengthy suspension without an appeal. A lifetime ban could take the Yankees off the hook for Rodriguez's massive annual salaries through 2017.
But according to Smith, Rodriguez's representatives aren't negotiating at all. Team A-Rod has also been quite adamant about its intent to fight any suspension.
"Alex Rodriguez's camp has adamantly stated, they are not negotiating. They don't care," Smith said on Saturday. "They're waiting for Major League Baseball to 'bring it on.' Those were their words. And we will see them in federal court. What are they waiting for. Stop talking us to death and bring on the suspensions. Let's go. These are their exact words to me."