New York Yankees star third baseman Alex Rodriguez reportedly believes that the club does not want him to return at all for the 2013 season.
Now, it also appears that A-Rod himself isn't sure that he will return.
UPDATE: Thursday, June 27, at 5:50 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
ESPN's Wallace Matthews reports that Rodriguez isn't certain about his return this season:
Alex Rodriguez expressed some uncertainty about his return to the New York Yankees this season during a conference call Wednesday afternoon with team officials, a source familiar with the conversation told ESPNNewYork.com.
"I'm not sure when I can come back," A-Rod is said to have told general manager Brian Cashman and team president Randy Levine on the three-way call. "It could be in July. It could be in August. It could be I won't be able to play at all this year."
---End of update---
Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York broke news of this development on Wednesday, citing a source who explains the potential financial motivations behind Rodriguez's assertion:
According to a source, Rodriguez thinks the Yankees are deliberately slowing down his return to their active roster in the hope they can have him declared medically unfit to play this season, enabling them to recoup 80 percent of his $28 million salary through insurance.
Rodriguez himself tweeted earlier in the week that he was cleared to play in games again by Dr. Bryan Kelly:
Visit from Dr. Kelly over the weekend, who gave me the best news - the green light to play games again! http://t.co/RuzfXOJjHI— Alex Rodriguez (@AROD) June 25, 2013
That led to GM Brian Cashman's particularly strong reaction to Rodriguez's unexpected announcement.
As Matthews documents, Cashman told the following to ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand: "You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will]. Alex should just shut the f--- up."
Following the 2007 season, Rodriguez was awarded with a 10-year, $275 million contract, so it isn't exactly out of the question that the Yankees would want to avoid paying that hefty salary if at all possible.
What will be A-Rod's fate in 2013?
A cloud is already hanging over Rodriguez due to his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal. The source told Matthews that a potential suspension for any wrongdoing by Rodriguez could be another reason to delay his return.
Cashman, though, flatly denied any allegations that the Yanks are preventing him from taking to the diamond, and said he'd love to have Rodriguez playing as soon as possible:
[Rodriguez is] not being slowed down or anything. Make no mistake; if Alex Rodriguez is healthy, we want him, and I want him, playing third base for us yesterday. We're clearly a better team with him. We're taking every step in the process, but we can't have him unless he's ready. Period.
According to Rodriguez himself, he is ready, and Cashman claims to have no knowledge of where the Biogenesis investigation stands, so that is not factoring into the timetable for Rodriguez's return.
Finally, Cashman hasn't heard anything from Kelly about Rodriguez being cleared to play:
...I know Alex created a Twitter account just two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and I know he has tweeted out he's lifting, feeling good, stuff like that. I never got calls on that. But Kelly is not clearing his rehab. It's just not accurate, that's all, and believe me, with the season that we have had so far, I've got a lot of extra work. Clearly yesterday, with the timing of this I was like, "I don't want to deal with this." It was how I felt about having to deal with something I thought was not necessary.
The source in Rodriguez's camp also notes Cashman and team president Randy Levine haven't spoken to him "in months." That has led to Rodriguez's heightening suspicion of collusion.