NEW YORK — Sitting on a stage with their manager and GM during a fundraiser, Mariano Rivera and Mark Teixeira vowed to welcome Alex Rodriguez back to the New York Yankees following the latest drug allegations against the New York Yankees star.
Rodriguez is recovering from hip surgery expected to sideline him until at least the All-Star break. The Miami New Times reported last week that Rodriguez is included in records the paper claims show he bought performance-enhancing drugs from a defunct Florida anti-aging clinic. Rodriguez denied the charges.
“We have to embrace him. He’s our teammate,” Rivera said.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team will wait for Major League Baseball to determine the truthfullness of the allegations, and manager Joe Girardi said there’s no way to tell whether the All-Star third baseman will regain his offensive production following him surgery.
“This involves some very nasty facts,” Cashman told about 150 fans at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. “There needs to patience here as they thoroughly investigate this to determine the accuracy or inaccuracy, or where are there accuracies or inaccuracies in the story, and see if we can come up with what is fact and what are provable facts.”
“Everybody, they deserve due process and right now you have just a very nasty story,” Cashman added. “We’ll just have to wait and let it all play out.”
Rodriguez was among a half-dozen major leaguers accused in the report by the alternative weekly and could face a 50-game suspension. He admitted four years ago that he used PEDs while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, before MLB and the union started their joint drug program. He has denied using PEDs since.
“He wears that uniform, that New York Yankees uniform, and I have to go out and be there for him,” Rivera said. “Besides, he’s my friend and I will respect and wait for him to give you the answer that you want.”
Teixeira echoed Rivera’s thoughts.
“Just like Mo said, you support your family,” the first baseman said.
Teixeira spoke out against PEDs when asked about the rejection of all candidates in this year’s Hall of Fame vote, a group that included seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.
“As a sport, we’ve stood up and said enough is enough because there is no place for steroids in sports,” Teixeira said to applause. “It’s a little bit embarrassing to go up to somebody and have people talk about baseball, and the first thing they talk about is steroids. And I’m tired of it, frankly. So for the Hall of Fame, the No. 1 highlight of anyone’s career and what we all strive to become, for Hall of Fame voters to stand up and make a stand, I think that is a positive thing.”
Even before last week’s report, Rodriguez had lived through a tumultuous offseason following his repeated benching for lack of production during last year’s playoffs. A-Rod, who turns 38 in July, has not played a full season since 2007 because of injuries. It’s not clear whether he will report to spring training with the Yankees in Tampa, Fla.
“I’m not sure exactly where he’ll be from a rehab standpoint and where they feel the best place for him to be,” Girardi said.
He will watch Rodriguez’s progress from surgery but won’t predict whether A-Rod will regain the offensive form that led to three AL MVP awards and 647 home runs — 115 shy of tying Barry Bonds’ career record.
“We’re hopeful and we’re confident that he’s going to come back healthy but you’ve got to find out,” Girardi said. “There’s no guarantees when they cut you.”
Rivera, the career saves leader, missed most of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. Now 43, he expects to be on his normal spring training routine. He joked about his disdain for exhibition road games in Florida.
“For me it’s a challenge, but I can’t wait to get there,” he said. “I’m going to start sweating and running and doing all that stuff, getting in the outfield. You won’t see the last of me there.”
NOTES: Working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., captain Derek Jeter deferred on publicly discussing the charges against Rodriguez. “I don’t comment on anyone until they speak first,” Jeter said. “Let him address his situation before I comment on it. Let him speak first and then we’ll talk about that.” ... Girardi has not ruled out moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left, but says for now he hasn’t decided to make a switch. ... Girardi and Cashman said Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli are likely to compete for the starting catcher’s job. After missing most of last season because of a back injury, Austin Romine has only an outside chance. ... An auction raised money for Carlos Silva, a producer and engineer for Yankees games on WCBS radio since 2006, who is fighting esophageal and stomach cancer.
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