DETROIT -- Contractually, the marriage between Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees runs through 2017, but as the three-time American League Most Valuable Player unhappily sat before Game 4 of the AL Championship Series was rained out Wednesday night, you have to wonder if they will actually make it that far.
General manager Brian Cashman shot down a published report that the club had already engaged the Miami Marlins in trade talks regarding Rodriguez, saying that it was "100 percent false," but the future has become very murky for the 37-year-old slugger.
"There's blood in the water when you don't play well; I haven't played well," Rodriguez said. "What I will tell you is I hope that nothing is going on like that at this point, because our only focus from top to bottom is to win a baseball game tonight."
Manager Joe Girardi again left Rodriguez out of the club's starting lineup on Wednesday, marking the third time that Rodriguez has been benched in this postseason.
Rodriguez is 3-for-23 in the playoffs and has gone 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching, with the Tigers hoping to lock up the AL pennant behind right-hander Max Scherzer.
"I'm obviously not doing somersaults," Rodriguez said. "I'm not happy about it. Obviously, you come to the ballpark feeling that you can help the team win, and when you see your name is not in the lineup, you're obviously disappointed. You've got to just shift to being a cheerleader and also make sure that you're ready when your number is called."
Cashman responded to a report by former sports correspondent and political commentator Keith Olbermann that suggested the Yankees have engaged the Marlins about a trade involving Rodriguez, who has five years and a guaranteed $114 million -- plus performance-based incentives -- remaining on a monster contract signed after Rodriguez won the AL MVP Award in 2007.
"I've had no discussions whatsoever with the Marlins," Cashman said. "I certainly would never have any trade discussions under the circumstances. ... I can tell you there are no discussions whatsoever. We are not down the line on any trade talks on any of our players, including Alex, and I haven't engaged any general manager about trade discussions since the [July 31 non-waiver Trade] Deadline, for the most part."
ESPN New York reported that there was a discussion between Yankees president Randy Levine and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria about A-Rod, a Miami resident, but the report characterized it as a "casual, joking conversation." Rodriguez has a full no-trade clause and would need to approve any potential deal.
While Rodriguez's struggles have been more pronounced in the postseason, Cashman noted that Rodriguez has had problems against right-handed pitching all season.
He batted .308 (45-for-146) with eight homers, 24 RBIs and a .924 OPS against lefties during the regular season, while hitting .256 (81-for-317) with 10 homers, 33 RBIs and a .717 OPS against righties. His career OPS against righties (.945) and lefties (.944) are nearly equal.
"That doesn't mean that he's done, that he's finished, that he is not capable," Cashman said. "He is still a big threat, but for whatever reason right now, we are adjusting to what we are seeing."
Rodriguez said that he still believes he can bring game-changing impact to a big league lineup and does not agree with the idea that the Yankees have a better chance of winning Game 4 with Eric Chavez at third base than him.
"The one thing I will give Joe a lot of credit is, he's been very good to me over the years, so he has a lot of equity with me," Rodriguez said. "And for me, it's just tough. I'm a competitor. It's all I've known since I was 5 years old. My dad played baseball as well, and I love to compete.
"I really feel that in my heart, any time I'm in that lineup, the team is a better team, without any question. We'll disagree there to the end, but I like Joe. I support Joe. Our job right now is to come together like a family. There's tons of distractions, there's a lot of wedges trying to be driven between us, and it's not going to happen."
Rodriguez said that despite the issues that have spoiled his postseason, he can still see a future playing in New York with the Yankees.
"I love the Yankees -- I love this organization," Rodriguez said. "My focus right now is to help this team come together and win a game. Let's just focus on winning a game."