TAMPA, Florida - With questions surrounding injured star Alex Rodriguez and much of the healthy lineup, the New York Yankees reported to pre-season training camp Tuesday in quest of a 28th World Series title.
Third baseman Rodriguez, who is recovering from left hip surgery, was named in records revealed in reports last month by former employees of a now-closed Miami clinic that has been linked to the sale of performance-enhancing drugs.
"There's really not a lot to talk about," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I've had my discussions with Alex and talked about his rehab. My concern is getting his healthy. That's what I'll focus on. That's what this club will be focused on. This club is used to things that would be called 'distractions.'"
Girardi said he did not address the doping links when speaking with "A-Rod", saying he wanted to wait until after the completion of a Major League Baseball investigation into the reports about the Biogenesis clinic.
"I didn't really talk about that," Girardi said. "Major League Baseball has to go through what they have to go through. I talked about rehab, getting off his crutches and what he had done through the winter.
"You're always curious about things you read about that could be damaging to your player and baseball. But you have to wait and let Major League Baseball do what they will do. Until MLB does their thing, I don't feel the need to talk about it."
Girardi said the situation offers a cautionary tale for players who go outside club medical personnel.
"I want our players to go to our people as much as they can but you know that's not always going to happen," he said. "If you do seek outside opinion, you need to be wise about it and you probably ought to consult with the club."
Girardi said Rodriguez will remain in rehabilitation in New York rather than join the club in Florida for pre-season training and added that he had no idea when Rodriguez would be back with the club.
"He's not really ready to do anything baseball with us yet," Girardi said.
Also named in the clinic files was 26-year-old Venezuelan catcher Francisco Cervelli, who Girardi said will have to ignore the questions and focus upon baseball.
"Of course that can weigh on his mind," Girardi said. "But that's a distraction that he's going to have to block out so it doesn't."
Cervelli said he bought legal supplements from the clinic but is certain he never used banned substances.
The Yankees, who lost to Detroit in last year's American League championship series, hope to have shortstop Derek Jeter back for the April 1 opener against Boston after he suffered a broken left ankle in the playoffs.
"We anticipate he's going to be back on opening day," Girardi said of the Yankees captain.
Panamanian right-handed closer Mariano Rivera is coming back at age 43 after right knee surgery last year while starting pitcher CC Sabathia is coming off left elbow surgery.
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