(Adds telephone call between Rodriguez and Cashman)
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman regrets the language but not the message he delivered to injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who violated club policy and contradicted him in a comment about his return from injury.
ESPN.com reported that Cashman had told one of their reporters who relayed an A-Rod Tweet to him on Tuesday that Rodriguez “should just shut the fuck up”.
Cashman’s response generated headlines across the back pages of New York’s tabloids on Wednesday.
“I regret the choice of words I used yesterday,” Cashman told reporters before Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers, but added that his message that “the team was run from ‘the top down and not from the bottom up’ remained important.”
Rodriguez Tweeted on Tuesday the surgeon who had operated on his hip had told him he was ready to play, though he is still being evaluated by team doctors and trainers at their Florida spring training complex.
The enthusiastic Tweet from Major League Baseball’s highest paid player came the day after Cashman had told reporters that no date had been set for Rodriguez to begin the final stage of his rehabilitation in Florida by playing in games.
Getting a telephone call for comment on A-Rod’s Tweet during Tuesday’s Yankees-Rangers game sent Cashman over the edge, he said.
“As the game’s going on last night, the last thing I wanted as general manager of the New York Yankees watching (Texas pitcher Yu) Darvish and (Yankees pitcher Hiroki) Kuroda hook up in a great battle was to be dealing with something that we didn’t create.”
The Yankees won 4-3 in a thriller clinched by a walk-off home run by New York’s Ichiro Suzuki.
Cashman said Rodriguez and the team owner talked about the matter.
“Alex today spoke with our owner Hal Steinbrenner, who was working out at the complex (in Tampa) where Alex was rehabbing. So Alex grabbed Hal and they had a conversation,” said Cashman, adding that the message was reiterated “in a more professional way than I did.”
Cashman, who has had a chilly relationship with Rodriguez since the slugger admitted in 2009 that he had used steroids earlier in his career, later cleared the air with A-Rod just before Wednesday’s game.
“Alex called Cash,” Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo told reporters. “Cashman got (team president) Randy Levine on the phone, they spoke for close to 30 minutes.
“It was a constructive, healthy conversation. Everybody is on the same page. We’re all going to communicate and work together to get Alex back as quickly as possible. Everyone fully understands the protocol and process in place.”
Earlier, Cashman said he had just reached a boiling point and the owner let him know he was disappointed in his choice of words.
“I guess 99 times out of 100 I roll with it pretty good, but this time I didn’t. I popped.
“I sounded off. Reality TV at its best.”
Rodriguez has not played this season and Cashman said the injury-hit Yankees were not holding him back, but were simply waiting for him to build up stamina before having him take the next step.
“We need him yesterday,” Cashman said.
“But we can’t have him unless he’s ready. Period.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford/Greg Stutchbury