BOSTON — Alex Rodriguez flatly denied before Friday night’s game that he or any members of his inner circle leaked the names of Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli from the Biogenesis lists, as “60 Minutes” reported earlier in the day. A-Rod also warned that fans should be prepared for more stories like this one before the season ends.
“It’s not true,” said Rodriguez, who was ringed by a large crowd of reporters in the cramped visiting dugout at Fenway Park. “I spoke to Cervelli this morning. Had a positive conversation. He understands it’s not true. We’re all on the same page.
“Let’s make one thing clear: 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, I’ll have an opportunity with a full platform, and I can tell my full story.
“It’s going to get worse every day,” Rodriguez said. “I would expect bigger and bigger stories to come out every day.”
Cervelli was among the 12 players who accepted a 50-game suspension on Aug. 5, the same day Rodriguez was hit with a 211-game ban. Braun cut his own deal on July 22 for 65 games. Neither player claimed innocence, but their guilt was overshadowed Friday by the accusation that A-Rod sold out his fellow players, including a teammate in Cervelli.
“I’ve been a member of this union for 20 years, and it’s important for me to know that — for all the guys to understand — that my loyalty is to this union,” Rodriguez said. “That would never happen. It would never occur, and it didn’t happen.”
Rodriguez, who filed an appeal so he could continue to play, has pledged to fight his suspension through the arbitration process. But the hearing is at least a month away, and a decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz is not expected until November or early December because of the complexity of the case.
In the meantime, the Yankees are trying to salvage a season that’s been damaged by numerous injuries, the prolonged absence of captain Derek Jeter and the growing distraction of Rodriguez.
A-Rod is not the only person who believes things will get worse, either. His teammates have taken notice.
Vernon Wells said he “chuckled” while reading the “60 Minutes” report and believes this story is “just the tip of the iceberg.” Having observed the depth of Major League Baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis, Wells figures there has to be more to come. He does find the Braun-Cervelli accusations troubling, however.
“The last thing you want to start doing is throwing other people under the bus,” Wells said. “Especially in this game. That’s something that we always talk about — when people do throw people under the bus. Whether it be a manager or whatever it may be, we chuckle about stuff like that. Obviously, this isn’t a laughing matter, but I don’t think this is the end of it.”
Rodriguez seems prepared for that. He showed up in the clubhouse at 3:50 p.m. wearing headphones and never took them off as he changed into his uniform. Five minutes later, Rodriguez walked into the manager’s office with Joe Girardi, who emerged shortly afterward for his daily briefing with reporters in the upstairs conference room.
Girardi did not think it was necessary for Rodriguez to speak to his teammates about the new allegations.
“I really believe that this group is good at shutting out distractions and understanding what it has to do,” Girardi said. “There’s always going to be something. Since this Biogenesis thing has come about, there’s been something every once in a while that comes out, and players are asked about it, but I think they’re good at moving on and doing their work.”
But it’s not going away, and if Rodriguez is to be believed, he’s going to become an even greater distraction as the season plows ahead.
Rodriguez has spoken almost daily to the media, with the most notable exception coming before and after his Aug. 9 return to the Bronx. That also happened to be the day he was notified of the Yankees’ disciplinary action against him — by a hand-delivered letter from Brian Cashman.
“We’re going to have to deal with it,” Rodriguez said Friday, “and when I have the right platform at the right time, and the time is appropriate — which is not now — I will tell my full story.”
Rodriguez also has become a punching bag for other players around the league — “It gets old,” he said — as Evan Longoria, Jonny Gomes and John Lackey have said he should not be playing with a 211-game PED suspension hanging over his head. Lackey is scheduled to start against the Yankees this afternoon.
“It’s frustrating because I’m a human being and I belong to a union,” Rodriguez said. “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 and do feel like I have great support. I’ve spoken to a lot of my teammates. I plan to speak to (Dustin Pedroia), maybe Jonny Gomes, maybe Big Papi. And they have a full understanding that this is not true.”