Because their first full-squad workout is scheduled for Wednesday, and because they know know the A-Rod/steroids story will loom over them all season, they're hoping he can at least clear the air somewhat so they can hold Wednesday's workout in relative peace.
"Let me tell you, I'm really looking forward to getting beyond Tuesday," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said following Sunday's workout, comparing the A-Rod situation with last year's Andy Pettitte scenario. "I think (the story) will linger a little bit, I think like Andy's did in a sense, and maybe to a little larger magnitude just becasue people stay around for a little bit.
"Everyone can't stay around forever. There's other stories in the world -- hopefully fairly quickly."
Last spring, Pettitte, who had admitted using human growth hormone after he was named in the Mitchell Report, was one of the biggest of those stories. And in a scene depressingly familiar with what is expected to transpire when A-Rod arrives, the Yankees hosted a press conference with Pettitte at the microphone that was part confessional, part apology and part therapy.
With A-Rod, the club has not scheduled anything official yet, but Tuesday is reporting day for position players. Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman, Pettitte, catcher Jorge Posada and shortstop Derek Jeter -- and likely others -- plan to attend A-Rod's session as a show of support. Cashman said Sunday that several players have asked when it is.
"He's dealing with the problem," said Cashman, who has spoken with A-Rod multiple times since the third baseman admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003. "He's trying to address it in the most honest way he can. His conversation with ESPN was an important first step."
Even though Rodriguez has yet to arrive, the story threatened to overshadow even the reporting of two marquee free agent pitchers on Friday, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. And so many other things are near afterthoughts.
As pitchers and catchers worked out for a second day Sunday, Chien-Ming Wang was back in uniform after missing half a season last year with a broken foot. Catcher Jorge Posada continued his throwing program after playing in a career-low 51 games last season because of a shoulder in need of surgery. Prospect Phil Hughes tried to regain his balance after last year's dismal flop.
And yet, even with little national media presence on Sunday, Girardi fielded nearly as many questions about Rodriguez as anything else following the workout.
"I will be there," Girardi said in response to a query regarding the spring's most anticipated news conference. "I support him. We understand he's going through a difficult time. I supported Andy last year. It's my job."
Girardi also said he thinks the symbolism of teammates attending is important.
"I think it shows the unity of the club," he said. "And I think that's real important. I think it's important for teammates to back teammates, and they're there for each other, and they know during difficult times they can lean on each other.
"Because, you know what? There's going to be something else that comes up this year that's difficult maybe for a player to get through."
Acknowledging that this undoubtedly is an uncomfortable time for Rodriguez -- "I think it probably would be uncomfortable for anyone" -- Girardi said he intends to speak with A-Rod upon the third baseman's arrival in Tampa just to gauge how he's feeling.
The manager also said he expects to monitor A-Rod all season.
"Only time will tell how he's handling it," Girardi said. "It could be that he's managing to handle it great. Who knows where we go from Tuesday. It's something I'll watch carefully."
Former manager Joe Torre, in his book The Yankee Years, noted that Rodriguez was the type of personality that needs constant approval, constant attention, day-to-day.
Asked whether that was his observation during his rookie season at the helm of the Yanks in 2008, Girardi said, "I have no personally felt that way with Alex. All players, including myself, need a pat on the back because it's a game of failure.
"I think all of us need to hear, 'Job well done', whether when you're working from your boss, or a son from a father."
As Girardi said of Tuesday, "It's a start. There are still things he's going to have to deal with during the course of the season, but it's a start. This is another step in a process."