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A-Rod & Yankees: Foes for 21 hours, allies for 3

Tuesday - 8/20/2013, 6:22pm  ET

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2013 file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, center, is tended to by a trainer at first base after being hit by a pitch in the second inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston. Rodriguez got hit by a fastball from Boston starter Ryan Dempster. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Life with Alex Rodriguez breaks down in strange ways for the New York Yankees.

There's before and after games, and it's not real pleasant.

"A litigious environment," general manager Brian Cashman calls it.

Then there are the hours when A-Rod is on the field and at the plate. Between the lines, among the pinstripes, it's one for all and all for one.

They co-exist in a setting that has few if any parallels in baseball history -- a suspended star who is appealing his penalty and provoking his bosses on a near-daily basis.

Hardly a "Field of Dreams" scenario, far from "The Pride of the Yankees." Instead, the most famous team in the sport is directly at odds with its own guy, who also happens to be the game's highest-paid player.

Yet when Boston pitcher Ryan Dempster hit Rodriguez with a fastball at Fenway Park on Sunday night -- after throwing one pitch behind A-Rod's knees and two more inside -- the New York bench and bullpen immediately emptied to defend him.

"I'm not sure how I would feel if I was on a different team," said center fielder Brett Gardner, "but Alex is my teammate and obviously we're glad to have him back in the room and glad to have him back on the field, helping us win ballgames. It got us fired up."

Gardner was especially riled, barking angry words across the diamond toward Dempster.

At least that's more than Rodriguez and Cashman are saying to each other.

"I'm not comfortable talking to Alex on this stuff because I feel we're in a litigious environment. So I am not comfortable anymore talking to him," Cashman said Sunday. "Hello. Goodbye. And that's it. Because anything else, I don't want to be distorted, to be quite honest."

Not quite the ideal relationship between boss and employee.

But Rodriguez and the Yankees have never been typical. And their dealings with each other just get stranger and stranger, stirring memories of the George Steinbrenner-Billy Martin-Reggie Jackson battles of the 1970s.

A-Rod always has been about the biggest: startling statistics and record-setting contracts.

And now he is mounting a huge legal effort as he tries to overturn the 211-game drug suspension announced Aug. 5 by baseball commissioner Bud Selig for violations of the drug agreement and labor contract. The Yankees third baseman has four law firms and one investigations company working for him at the moment and has used six law firms in all since the start of the year.

In a story that gets more delicious by the day, his latest lawyer sparred with Major League Baseball on Monday, when the league asked for permission to make its drug case evidence public and Joseph Tacopina refused. A few hours later, a woman indicted last year for stalking Cashman asked for a court order to block Tacopina from representing A-Rod, claiming the firm had been doing work for her.

The Yankees didn't even have a game, taking a day off before opening a homestand with a day-night doubleheader against Toronto.

Some players on opposing teams have criticized MLB's drug agreement for allowing Rodriguez on the field while his discipline is being appealed to arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. The rules state penalties for a first offender who appeals are stayed until upheld by an arbitrator.

"How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he's playing. I'm not sure that's right," Red Sox pitcher John Lackey told the Boston Globe last week. "It's pretty evident he's been doing stuff for a lot of years I've been facing him."

After years of denials, Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with Texas from 2001-03.

Then Miami New Times reported in January that he had received PEDs from the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic, which sparked MLB's investigation leading to suspensions of 14 players this summer.

Recovering from hip surgery in January, Rodriguez rejoined the Yankees on Aug. 5, hours after his discipline was announced. Since then he's hit .319 with two homers and six RBIs, including a home run that sparked the Yankees to a 9-6 win at Boston on Sunday night.

When Dempster's first pitch nearly hit A-Rod, Yankees manager Joe Girardi moved to the top step of the dugout. When the 3-0 pitch struck A-Rod's left elbow pad and ricocheted off his back, Rodriguez glared at the mound and Girardi sprinted onto the field, screaming at plate umpire Brian O'Nora for not ejecting the pitcher and throwing a right hook a few inches in front of the umpire's face. Girardi was ejected for his profane tirade.

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