“There have no doubt been times when we’ve been disappointed in him and we’ve conveyed that to him and he understands that,” Steinbrenner said. “But look, everybody’s human and everybody makes mistakes. If you’ve got a guy over the course of 10 years, there’s going to be times any of us make mistakes.”
Steinbrenner spoke one day after Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN he didn’t think Rodriguez could live up to his record $275 million, 10-year contract that runs through 2017 _ a deal he signed after opting out of his contract at the end of the 2007 World Series.
The 37-year-old Rodriguez has been as much a lightning rod for back-page fodder and the subject of Major League Baseball investigations as he has been a force on the field since joining the Yankees in 2004.
Rodriguez was benched during last season’s playoffs and has been ridiculed for repeatedly failing in October. In 2009, he admitted using steroids while with the Texas Rangers. The Miami New Times reported this year that Rodriguez bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances in recent years from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed clinic in Coral Cables, near his offseason home. His name has also been mentioned in connection with illegal poker games.
But Rodriguez has also won two MVP awards with New York, been selected to seven All-Star teams and practically carried the club to its most recent World Series title in 2009.
Rodriguez is rehabbing his surgically repaired hip and is not expected back until after the All-Star break. And despite his criticism of A-Rod, Steinbrenner understands the injury-depleted Yankees probably need the three-time AL MVP to be successful for New York to advance deep into the postseason.
“I know he’s been working hard and he’s been working hard to come back and he does work,” Steinbrenner said. “He knows what it means to be a Yankee and he knows what we expect of him and he knows what his teammates expect of him, without a doubt. So we just hope he comes back strong. We need all the help we can get.”
On Monday, Rodriguez did agility drills before running hard 10 times at around 120 feet in the outfield at the Yankees‘ minor league complex in Tampa, Fla. After taking 29 grounders hit at him at third base, A-Rod took 66 swings, including several long opposite-field homers, during batting practice.