No fewer than 7 reporters contributed to a New York Daily News item Friday morning that claims Yankee 3B Alex Rodriguez has a working relationship with Angel “Nao” Presinal (above, left), a trainer banned from MLB clubhouses and at one time, massage therapist to Pedro Martinez.
A former New York-area scout says Presinal, whose named surfaced in the Mitchell Report, was with Rodriguez in New York and Miami as recently as this past fall.
MLB has warned players to stay away from him.
“He’s an unsavory character,” one baseball official said.
Another source said Presinal accompanied A-Rod for the entire 2007 season, staying in the same hotel as the A.L. MVP, but in a separate room with the “cousin” Rodriguez pegged three days ago as his steroid source from 2001-03.
The cousin was identified Thursday as Yuri Sucart.
The source said Rodriguez avoided being seen in public with Presinal.
“He was around Alex in 2007,” the source said of Presinal. “Every hotel they went to, he stayed in the same room with Yuri. You would never see Alex with [Presinal]. They would meet in one of their rooms.”
The News reports Presinal has been associated with a laundry list of the game’s superstars, including but not limited to David Ortiz, Vlad Guerrero, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre, Ruben Sierra, and most prominently, Juan Gonzalez. From ESPN.com’s Mike Fish, February 14, 2007 :
Presinal, 54, popped up on Major League Baseball’s radar in October 2001 after he and former two-time American League MVP Juan Gonzalez, then his primary client, were linked to an unmarked bag, reportedly containing steroids and hypodermic needles, that was seized by Canadian authorities at the Toronto airport. Questioned by Canadian Border Service agents, Gonzalez said the bag belonged to Presinal. Presinal has said the bag and everything in it belonged to Gonzalez, then a Cleveland Indians outfielder.
Ultimately, Canadian authorities decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge either Gonzalez or Presinal. Word of the incident, though, has made Presinal persona non grata in the majors — but not in the Dominican Republic, where he remains highly respected and a cult hero to players on the Caribbean island.
Asked about the bag episode, Martinez, rehabbing from rotator cuff surgery on Oct. 5, told ESPN.com: “I have no idea about the controversy. I just know that I would give Nao my support anytime. Nao has worked with me for a long, long time. And all he has done is help me with my training, help me with massages and stuff like that.”
“He is experienced about muscles and flexibility. He understands really well how to work on the body, especially with the therapy and massage. And Nao is a really good therapist when it comes to understanding how muscles react.”
Asked what role Presinal played in his star pitcher’s rehab, Minaya responded: “There is no — as far as I know, there is no connection between Nao and the Mets and Pedro. That is news to me.”
As for Presinal working with Martinez, he said: “I don’t know. I don’t know that.”