TAMPA, Fla. — A doctor retained by Alex Rodriguez for a second opinion — one that contradicted the New York Yankees’ diagnosis of his leg injury Wednesday — was reprimanded this year by New Jersey’s board of medical examiners over steroid prescriptions.
Rodriguez is one of more than a dozen players under investigation by Major League Baseball for alleged ties to a Florida clinic accused of distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners filed an order of reprimand against Dr. Michael Gross on Feb. 13 for his conduct at his Active Center for Health & Wellness.
“The board ordered and Dr. Gross agreed to be formally reprimand[ed] for permitting an individual who had completed medical school but did not have a medical license to participate in the care and treatment of patients at the center and failing to adequately ensure proper patient treatment involving the prescribing of hormones including steroids at the center,” according to the disciplinary summary on the New Jersey Attorney General’s division of consumer affairs website.
The orthopedist was fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $10,000 in costs.
The New York Daily News first reported the reprimand Wednesday and said MLB would expand its drug probe to examine Rodriguez’s relationship with Gross.
Rodriguez was diagnosed Sunday with a strained left quadriceps on the final day of his injury rehabilitation assignment. At the time, the Yankees said the three-time MVP was examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where an MRI was performed. The team said Rodriguez had a grade one strain, which is the least severe type, and would return to Tampa for rest and treatment.
But Gross said during an interview on WFAN radio Wednesday that he examined Rodriguez’s scan earlier in the day.
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t see any sort of injury there,” Gross said. “It’s such a small thing that you might not see it on an MRI.”
He added: “I asked him, Does anything hurt? And he said, ‘No.'”
Gross never personally examined Rodriguez and based his diagnosis on the MRI.
He didn’t return a telephone message left at his office.
Under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, a player must inform his team in writing of his decision to obtain a second medical opinion. The Yankees said Rodriguez retained Gross without notifying them.
“As always, we will follow the rules and regulations set forth in the basic agreement and will again re-evaluate Alex in Tampa tomorrow, as our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so,” general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement.
Cashman said Rodriguez complained of “tightness” in the quadriceps July 12 “and therefore refused to consent to the transfer of his assignment” from Class A Tampa to Triple-A Scranton. He said Rodriguez complained of stiffness again Sunday, which led to the MRI.
Rodriguez arrived at the Yankees’ minor league complex Wednesday and spent a little over four hours there.
“I feel great. That’s all I’ve got to say,” he said when he left, rolling down a window of the SUV he was riding in. Then he rolled up the window, gave a thumbs up as it closed and departed.
Rodriguez, who turns 38 on Saturday, had been recovering from hip surgery in January. He hit .250 (8 for 40) with two homers and eight RBIs in 13 minor league games before the leg injury.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson, coming back from a broken pinkie, talked with Rodriguez in the clubhouse.
“I saw him briefly as soon as I came in,” Granderson said. “He wanted to come hit with us, but he had to get some stuff taken care of. Almost like a kid out at recess, they had to stop him. You can’t go yet. But it’s all good signs knowing that he’s eager and ready” to return.
Granderson said Rodriguez was in a good mood.
“Smiling, talking,” Granderson said. “Doesn’t seem any different than what I’ve seen in the past.”