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Latest A-Rod troubles have team frustrated

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Latest A-Rod troubles have team frustrated

NEW YORK (AP) Alex Rodriguez was speaking on a conference call.

``A huge debacle,'' he said. ``Distasteful.''

That was on Dec. 13, 2007, when he re-signed with the New York Yankees and was discussing his decision 1 1/2 months earlier to become a free agent.

Now those words describe how some in the team's front office feel about A-Rod's $275 million, 10-year contract.

Once considered a player who could shatter the career home run record, Rodriguez has transformed from All-Star to annoyance for some in the Yankees organization. He hasn't played a full season since he was voted his third AL MVP award in 2007, he's out for at least the first half of this year following hip surgery on Jan. 16 and now he's been accused of again receiving performance-enhancing drugs - an allegation he denies.

Even before the charges were published Tuesday by the alternative weekly Miami New Times along with accusations against Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Gio Gonzalez, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal, some Yankees executives were wishing Rodriguez would just go away. Speaking on condition of anonymity because the team isn't publicly commenting on A-Rod's latest troubles, they revealed their frustration with the slugger.

And they have a big incentive for A-Rod to disappear. If he doesn't play again due to a career-ending injury, about 85 percent of the $114 million he's owed by the team would be covered by insurance, according to one of the executives who spoke on condition of anonymity.

New York also might be able to free itself from having the $27.5 million average annual value of Rodriguez's contract count in its luxury tax payroll in each of the next five seasons, a key factor as the Yankees try to get under the $189 million threshold in 2014.

If Rodriguez is on the disabled list, his contract is included. But if he's on the voluntary retired list, it would not be part of the total.

And if the Yankees fall under that $189 million benchmark, their luxury tax rate would drop from its current 50 percent to 17.5 percent for 2015. That would give them far more flexibility to pursue pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander if they become free agents following the 2014 season.

New York is not likely to be able to void A-Rod's deal. Baseball's drug agreement between management and the players' association specifies the commissioner's office has all disciplinary authority for violations.

A-Rod's poor health, however, may provide the path to savings for the team.

While Rodriguez rebounded from right hip surgery in March 2009 to help the Yankees to their first World Series title since 2000, Dr. Bryan Kelly said recovery from his operation on A-Rod's left hip this month will be more complex if for no other reason than it receives more stress because Rodriguez is a right-handed hitter.

Even before the latest kerfuffle, A-Rod seemed to have worn out his welcome.

Yankees management tired of spotting him on the gossip pages with Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Torrie Wilson. They bristled when he was seen with a stripper in Toronto, at a swingers' club in Dallas and at an illegal poker club in New York.

They made their displeasure public in 2010 when they said they never authorized Rodriguez to be treated by Dr. Anthony Galea, who said he prescribed anti-inflammatories to A-Rod following the first hip operation. Indicted in part for illegal possession of human growth hormone with intent to distribute, the Canadian doctor pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to mislead a U.S. agency.

Then came last year's playoffs, when Rodriguez was benched in three of nine games and pinch hit for in three others. He flirted with girls in the stands after he was removed from the AL championship series opener against Detroit.

Rodriguez's 647 home runs are 115 shy of tying Barry Bonds' career record but he has totaled just 34 the last two seasons and his 38th birthday is in late July. He has averaged 119 games, 21 homers and 81 RBIs over the last three years.

Before and after most games, when media is allowed to enter the Yankees' clubhouse, Rodriguez spends little time at his locker in the back left of the oval room, not too far from the entrance to the inner sanctum that contains the players' lounge, steam room, sauna, rubdown room, weight room, trainer's room and swimming pool. He doesn't have one of the prestige locations flanking the back entrance, held by Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, who took over the spot when Jorge Posada retired.

He has never been accepted by Yankees' fans the same way they adored Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. And now, with his increasing tabloid notoriety and declining production, some of the team's executives have concluded he's more a handicap than a help as the team strives for World Series title No. 28.

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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

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Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.

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