A-Rod's mom: Uncle's death affected performance

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Alex Rodriguez played poorly in the Yankees' American League Division Series loss in part because he was saddened by the death of the uncle who raised him, the slugger's mother said in an interview published in a local newspaper Sunday.

Lourdes Navarro said her son kept the Sept. 30 death of his uncle to himself because he was committed to helping his team win.

"I think he should speak with the team and tell them that his uncle, who was like his father because he raised him since he was 8, died in a hospital in Miami," Navarro told Listin daily newspaper.

Navarro didn't say what caused the death of Augusto Bolivar Navarro, who was her last surviving brother.

Rodriquez was hitless in last Monday's 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Angels that sent the Yankees home for the year, and finished the five-game series with no RBI and a .133 batting average.

"I know how much he suffered from the death of his uncle without being able to do anything, from listening to me crying and not being able to be there," she said, suggesting some New York fans were being unfair to her son.

"I would like ... for the baseball fans to know that my son is a great human being, that they're seeing a human and not a robot, that he can fail, especially when there are reasons like this," she said.

Navarro said Rodriguez spoke with his uncle for three hours by phone the day before he died.

"We buried him in Santo Domingo ... [Rodriguez] didn't come because of the high sense of responsibility that Alex has for his work," she said.

Rodriguez, baseball's only $25 million-a-year player, is a strong MVP candidate after batting .321 during the regular season with 48 homers and 130 RBI.