The specter of Alex Rodriguez may loom over the Yankees as they begin spring training. But Rodriguez himself will not be in the presence of his teammates any time in the near future.

Rodriguez will continue his recovery from offseason hip surgery in New York, manager Joe Girardi explained as part of his address to reporters after pitchers and catchers reported to camp Tuesday. This decision stems from the uniqueness of Rodriguez’s procedure, which repaired a torn labrum and a bone impingement, an operation Girardi indicated is "not something that we’ve done a lot of."

He downplayed the conclusion from this unusual situation: That Rodriguez’s absence would reduce the amount of outside agitation surrounding the club. Even if Rodriguez wasn’t involved in the Biogenesis scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs, Girardi said, he would remain back home to finish his rehabilitation.

"To me, him being in New York has nothing to do with trying to get rid of the distraction," Girardi said. "It’s the best place for him to be." He added, "He’s not ready really to do anything with us yet, from a baseball standpoint."

Even so, the implication is obvious. As camp opens this month, Rodriguez will be the elephant in the room — even if he’s not even in the state. The team has worked to distance itself from Rodriguez. They owe him $114 million over the next five seasons. They would prefer not to pay that sum, though there is little reason to believe they’ll be able to escape the contract, even if MLB suspends Rodriguez for violating its drug policy.