Matthew Emmons –– USA Today Sports

A-Rod reportedly got into 'heated' exchange with Joe Maddon over Yu Darvish criticism

Alex Reimer
August 13, 2018 - 9:51 am

Alex Rodriguez stands by his criticism of Cubs starter Yu Darvish, even in the face of blowback from Chicago manager Joe Maddon.

Maddon and A-Rod engaged in a heated conversation prior to the Cubs’ incredible 4-3 walk-off win over the Nationals Sunday night, according to the Athletic. During a broadcast last month, Rodriguez said Darvish was distracting his teammates by being in the clubhouse while rehabbing from injury. The right-hander, who signed a $126 million contract last offseason, has been out since May with triceps tendonitis. 

While Maddon insisted his pregame conversation with A-Rod was respectful, he said he stuck up for his player. 

“My job, I believe, is to protect my brood,” Maddon told reporters afterwards, per the Athletic. “It’s no different than being a parent, so if you’re going to attack the group from the outside looking in, [my mom] Beanie raised me, my uncles and aunts raised me, my midget football coaches raised me, all these guys that raised me would have it no other way. When you speak badly of my group, our group, it brings out the Hazleton in me.”

Rodriguez, for his part, said he doesn’t regret his harsh words for Darvish. “My job is to say it fairly and objectively,” Rodriguez said, via the Athletic. “I have over 25 years in the game and I’m going to call it as I see it. We don’t always have to agree on everything. But I do have a lot of respect for Joe – and obviously the Cubs organization – and I have for a long time and that hasn’t changed.”

It bodes well for A-Rod’s broadcasting future that he says he won’t allow his run-in with Maddon to dissuade him from expressing strong opinions. Sometimes, recently retired ex-players are transfixed on protecting their relationships above giving candid commentary. But it doesn’t seem like A-Rod is falling into that trap. “Sunday Night Baseball” play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian echoed those sentiments in a recent phone conversation with me.

“For a lot of guys who are fresh off the field and into the booth, they're still in the clubhouse, and there's a lot of trepidation when it comes to being critical,” Vasgerian told me over the phone. “They still feel like they're in the fraternity, and they don't say stuff that might appear critical. But there's a diplomatic way to do it. You can evaluate and analyze and not be mean-spirited or unfair. The guy who's fresh off the field generally takes a little longer to walk that balance. But that's something that Alex –– he doesn't really care about upsetting anybody.”

Now, if only A-Rod would talk a little less during the telecast. Then we would really be in business.