Alex Rodriguez might retire because his surgically repaired hip might… (Chris OMeara / Associated…)
Are the New York Yankees so desperate to get rid of Alex Rodriguez that they would risk committing insurance fraud?
Or are they just so frustrated with Rodriguez — and the never-ending soap opera that accompanies him — that they continue to suggest publicly that a guy with no apparent capacity for embarrassment wants to avoid embarrassment?
In January, after a Miami New Times report linked Rodriguez to the Florida clinic at the heart of baseball's investigation into performance-enhancing drugs, the Yankees — er, "sources" — floated the idea that he might retire because his surgically repaired hip might not allow him to resume his career. The Rodriguez response was quick, and clear: I'm rehabilitating my hip, and I want to play.
Now that Rodriguez and the Yankees have turned a debate over who should announce when he is ready to play into an expletive-laced drama, the sources are back with a similar theory: Rodriguez might retire because his surgically repaired hip might not allow him to resume his career — even though he has yet to test it in a minor league game — and because he might want to get out of baseball before the Biogenesis suspensions come down.
In its story, the New York Daily News twice broaches the possibility of a "lifetime ban" for Rodriguez, even though that would require him to be a three-time offender under baseball's drug policy. He has yet to be cited for violating that policy.
The Yankees owe Rodriguez $114 million over the next five years. If he were to retire because of injury, the Daily News and New York Post report, the Yankees could try to recoup most of that money from insurance.
Yet these reports come days after Rodriguez said — and the Yankees acknowledged — that the doctor who performed the hip surgery has cleared him medically. The Yankees, like all teams, determine when a player has regained enough baseball shape to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Insurance companies do not scare easily. The Dodgers had to sue one to get some money back on Jason Schmidt's contract, and he actually did have a career-ending injury.
In pinstriped hindsight, of course, it would have been better for the Yankees to heed these words: "I don't want anybody on my team that doesn't want to be a Yankee. ... It's goodbye." Those words were spoken by Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner, in 2007, after Rodriguez had opted out of the richest contract in baseball history. Within weeks, the Yankees had signed him to an even bigger one.
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