Alex Rodriguez’s lawyer accuses the Yankees of being misleading about his client’s injury

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When denying a report that his camp had leaked the names of Ryan Braun and Francisco Cervelli to the press, Alex Rodriguez cryptically said yesterday that “for the next seven weeks, it’s going to be a very, very bumpy road.” He wasn’t kidding.

Rodriguez’s bombastic new lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, has made some pretty bold claims in an interview with the New York Times, the most prominent of which is that the Yankees hid results of an MRI that showed a torn labrum in his hip and allowed him to play hurt in the postseason last year.

“They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer,” Tacopina said.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in Tacopina’s all-out-assault. In addition to claiming that the Yankees and MLB are working in concert to ruin his client, he relayed a supposed conversation where team president Randy Levine wished A-Rod’s hip injury would prevent him from every playing again.

Rodriguez learned the extent of his injuries in the off-season, and the Yankees sent him to Dr. Bryan T. Kelly, a prominent surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Tacopina said Kelly later told Rodriguez that before the surgery, Levine told Kelly, “I don’t ever want to see him on the field again.”

“It sent chills down Alex’s spine,” Tacopina said.

And while the “What would George do?” card is usually reserved for hacky columnists, Tacopina found a way to use it in defense of his client.

“We have basically had enough,” Tacopina said Friday night. “The process is being perverted when they act the way they do to make their case. They are pushing Alex to his limit.”

He added: “The legacy of George Steinbrenner would be horrified. This is the New York Yankees. This isn’t some thug-culture club.”

Oh, how soon we forget Howie Spira. In any case, Levine told the New York Times that “each and every one of these allegations is specious and completely false.” He also told Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger that A-Rod needs to “put up or shut up” and file a grievance if he “really believes” that he was mistreated by the team.

By the way, Rodriguez is in the lineup at third base this afternoon against the Red Sox. This situation is reaching new levels of awkward.

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.

Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.

Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.

Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.