A-Rod takes an intentional pass

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Joe Torre and Jorge Posada share a moment on Friday

LOS ANGELES – Alex Rodriguez(notes) could have covered the 10 feet in maybe three strides.

Instead, he turned his back on Joe Torre and kept it turned.

He could have waved, shouted a dutiful hello, let the air out of the place.

Instead, he stretched his right hamstring, then the left one, and gazed off down the right-field line.

He could have followed Derek Jeter(notes) to Torre's batting-cage reception, or stood alongside Andy Pettitte(notes), or fallen in behind Jorge Posada(notes).

Instead, he passed on the hugs, the frivolity, the photo ops.

Maybe the old Alex would have bowed to the moment, too. He would have gone along, because he was busy trying to be everything to everyone, busy avoiding the snarky headline, busy being A-Rod.

And then, of course, he'd fall straight into a pile of whatever it was he was hoping to evade.

Not this time.

In the hours before the New York Yankees played at Dodger Stadium for the first time in six years, the story was Torre. He would manage against his beloved Yankees, several of whom – Jeter, Pettitte, Posada and Mariano Rivera(notes) – consider him a father figure. He'd won four World Series with them, and they'd played in two others. He'd won nearly 1,200 games in a dozen notable seasons, all of them conspiring to make the Yankees the Yankees again.

But, while Torre's knack was connecting with the players, soothing them, and removing the peripherals that hunted them in New York, he apparently did not connect with or soothe Rodriguez.

What he did was bat him eighth.

Rodriguez heard and came to believe Torre referred to him as a "pretty boy," and that Torre had picked a side in the A-Rod-Jeter chill, and in his book fed the "A-Fraud" drama.

But, none of it stung quite as much as when he arrived at Detroit's Comerica Park for a division series game one Saturday afternoon, the Yankees playing to extend their season, to discover Torre had chosen his scapegoat.

Rodriguez had one hit in 11 at-bats going into Game 4. He'd batted .358 in September, leading up to the series, and then fallen into another postseason slump. Most believe Torre lost Rodriguez forever that day, had embarrassed him, and everything that came after it simply confirmed to Rodriguez there could never be a relationship between the game's pre-eminent manager and his superstar third baseman.

A year-and-a-half and 3,000 miles have altered none of a poisoned history.

Leading into the series here, while teammates said they greatly anticipated the Torre reunion, Rodriguez declined to address it. And on Friday afternoon, while Joe Girardi spoke of Torre's uncommon "calm" during those championship seasons, and Jeter said, "We'll always be friends," and Pettitte said, "He's been like a father figure to us," Rodriguez simply kept his distance.

"I'm not sad," Torre said early in the day, when he was asked whether it bothered him Rodriguez seemed to be carrying a grudge. "Because he doesn't want to talk to me I don't think means he's not going to say hello or shake my hand. I don't think there's anything to keep us from doing that."

Torre insisted anything attributed to him in "The Yankee Years," co-authored by Tom Verducci, about Rodriguez, "had been out in the public before." Torre said he was unhappy Friday morning when a local paper suggested he had coined the A-Rod moniker, "A-Fraud."

"I never said that," he said. "It takes on a life of its own. I certainly hope I didn't do anything to make him uncomfortable with me. That certainly was not my intention."

Further, he said, "If I see him over there … I'm certainly going to go over and shake his hand."

Well, near the end of Dodgers' batting practice and the beginning of the Yankees', Torre stood near the first-base line and Rodriguez stretched, the two of them maybe those 10 feet apart. The men he'd managed so brilliantly, many to championships, others to near misses, a few to October disappointments, they lined up to greet him. This weekend could be the last they see of Torre in uniform. He is considering retiring at the conclusion of the season, a decision that would precede sure enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. And one day he will return to Yankee Stadium, the new one, and raise his hand to the fans there, and they will thank him for one of the great eras in franchise history.

After what he did there, after how it ended there, he has that coming. He clearly loved seeing his former players, many of them his friends. He wrapped hugs around his core four, around Reggie Jackson, around Joe Girardi, around just about anybody in Yankee grays.

Just about.

Alex Rodriguez could have gone along, just walked over and extended his hand, pretended everything was OK.

He could have.

But then he would have been everything he'd been accused of. He would have been a fraud.