<i>SI</i>: Torre, Giambi counseled A-Rod

<i>SI</i>: Torre, Giambi counseled A-Rod

TORONTO -- Alex Rodriguez received some constructive criticism from his manager and teammates during his slump last month, according to the cover story in this week's Sports Illustrated, but A-Rod said Tuesday that he has felt nothing but support within his own clubhouse.

Following the Yankees' five-game August sweep at Fenway Park, a series in which Rodriguez didn't deliver any huge hits despite going 7-for-21, he fell into a funk on the West Coast.

Rodriguez went 2-for-20 with 14 strikeouts against Seattle and Los Angeles, hitting what Joe Torre called "rock bottom" on that trip. Jason Giambi, according to SI, tried to help Rodriguez get over his slump by doing more than telling him that everything was going to be all right.

Instead, Giambi told Torre that it was time to stop "coddling" Rodriguez. Giambi had already gone directly to A-Rod during the Boston series, telling him that while hitting singles was nice, the Yankees needed A-Rod to hit the big home run instead.

Days later in Seattle, Torre told Rodriguez, "This is all about honesty. And it's not about anybody else but you. You can't pretend everything is OK when it's not. You have to face the reality that you're going through a tough time, and then work from there."

Tuesday, Rodriguez said he couldn't remember the specifics of the conversations, but added that he has felt nothing but support from his teammates and Torre.

"Overall, the consensus was that I found an enormous amount of support," Rodriguez said. "More than I've gotten at any point in my career, simply because my struggles were so clear."

"It was tough in a certain way, but it was more in support of him and what he's capable of," Torre said. "The tone I took with Alex was basically about being honest with himself. ... I like to watch body language and it was like he was making it appear he was OK. It's all right to hurt, and I basically said, 'I know how much you're hurting inside.'"

Giambi stressed Tuesday that he wasn't trying to antagonize Rodriguez, but rather to support him and try to get him back on track.

"It wasn't a situation where there was malice or anything," Giambi said. "It was just trying to find anything to help him out. ... I don't want to make it sound like we were fighting or angry. By no means was it supposed to come off mean."

"I don't really remember; it was a long time ago," Rodriguez said. "My memory is pretty bleak. It's one of those times I want to forget anyway."

If anybody knows about struggling, it's Giambi, who had a terrible, injury-filled 2004 season and a miserable first two months in 2005.

"I've been there before; I've been in that situation where you're struggling and it seems like your world is coming down on you," Giambi said. "Sometimes it's nice for people to shoot straight to you and try to help you out. During that time, I was one of his biggest supporters."

In the SI article, Rodriguez also wondered why players such as Giambi and Mike Mussina, who also make a great deal of money and haven't won a World Series in pinstripes, are given "a pass" by the fans and the media.

"Mussina doesn't get hammered at all," A-Rod told SI. "He's making a boatload of money. Giambi's making [$20.4 million], which is fine and dandy, but it seems those guys get a pass. When people write [bad things] about me, I don't know if it's [because] I'm good-looking, I'm biracial, I make the most money, I play on the most popular team ..."

Tuesday, Rodriguez acknowledged that being who he is comes with a lot of baggage.

"My whole situation isn't comparable; it is what it is, so you have to handle it," A-Rod said. "Sometimes it's frustrating, but you deal with it. God has blessed me far too great to start questioning this or that. With that gift he's given me, the expectations are larger and bigger than anyone. That's fine with me."

However Giambi and Torre dealt with Rodriguez, the results have been much better. Since Sept. 1, Rodriguez is hitting .370 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in 16 games. As stacked as the Yankees' lineup is, they will need a big performance from A-Rod to do damage in the postseason, so his latest surge is good news for Giambi and his teammates.

"He's been phenomenal; I'm excited for him," Giambi said. "This is the right time for him to come out, because we're going to really need him in playoff time. He's going to be a big part of this, no doubt about it. He's probably the most talented baseball player I've ever seen, and in playoff time, you can't replace that."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.