Will divorce make him Pay-Rod?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Associated Press

MIAMI — A tumultuous week for Alex Rodriguez, played out in tabloid headlines and carried on the whispers of a connection to Madonna, came to a head Monday when his wife filed for divorce.

The more than 5-year marriage collapsed amid reports of a new friendship between the Yankee slugger and the 49-year-old pop singer, an only-in-New York convergence of sport and entertainment celebrity.

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Played out in both the sports pages and gossip magazines, the saga appeared to have taken its toll on Cynthia Rodriguez, who said in divorce papers that her husband ‘‘emotionally abandoned his wife and children.’’

‘‘The marriage of the parties is irretrievably broken because of the husband’s extramarital affairs and other marital misconduct,’’ according to her petition for dissolution of marriage, filed in the family division of Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

The New York Yankees third baseman, who earned his 12th All-Star selection Sunday, has refused to comment on any relationship with Madonna.

Rodriguez’s attorney in Miami, Ira M. Elegant — who is also representing NBA star Shaquille O’Neal in his ongoing divorce — said he had not reviewed the divorce petition but added: ‘‘As you know, anyone can pay the filing fee and make allegations.’’

Richard Rubenstein, a spokesman for Rodriguez, declined to address the allegations of infidelity, saying that would be brought up in court.

‘‘His priorites are to have a future with his children and be a big part of their lives,’’ Rubenstein said.

Cynthia Rodriguez has asked for primary custody of their two children — Nathasha Alexander, 3, and 2-month-old Ella Alexander — as well as child support and alimony.

Days before the filing, stories linking Rodriguez and Madonna began to surface, including an Us Weekly report last week saying that Rodriguez made several late-night visits to Madonna’s apartment in New York.

Madonna, who is married to filmmaker Guy Ritchie, denied any romantic involvement with Rodriguez in a statement Sunday.

‘‘My husband and I are not planning on getting a divorce,’’ the statement said. ‘‘I know Alex Rodriguez through Guy Oseary, who manages both of us. I brought my kids to a Yankee game. I am not romantically involved in any way with Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez added some Hollywood glitz to his management team last year when he hired Oseary, who had previously worked with Madonna and Lenny Kravitz. Oseary is not a registered baseball agent, and Rodriguez retained Scott Boras as his representative on baseball matters.

Madonna’s statement added that she has ‘‘nothing to do with the state of his marriage or what spiritual path he may choose to study,’’ apparently in reference to reports that the singer had introduced the ballplayer to the form of Jewish mysticism known as Kabbalah.

Cynthia Rodriguez last week visited the Paris home of Kravitz. The rocker denied anything improper, saying she had come to France to escape the media frenzy in New York and stayed at his home as a friend.

Her lawyer, Maurice Kutner, declined to elaborate on the divorce filing, which does not mention Madonna — or any alleged paramours — by name.

‘‘Cynthia has made it very clear to me that she wants to take the high road and protect her children and herself. There’s no vindictiveness here,’’ Kutner said. ‘‘She wants to resolve the issues between Alex and herself in an amicable fashion.’’

The couple, who married in November 2002, has had a prenuptial agreement in place since Oct. 3, 2002, according to the divorce papers.

Because Florida is a no-fault divorce state, extramarital affairs do not factor into how the Rodriguezes’ assets might be divided, according to marriage law experts Leon Finkel and David Levy of Oak Park, Ill. That is, unless such affairs are specifically addressed in the prenuptial agreement.

They have a $12 million, six-bedroom house in the upscale Miami suburb of Coral Gables. A company run by a corporation controlled by Rodriguez bought an apartment at Trump Park Avenue in Manhattan for $7.4 million in July 2005.

The divorce petition was filed the day after Rodriguez hit his 536th homer, tying Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 13th.

The 32-year-old Rodriguez has found himself in the tabloids more than any other Yankee since arriving in New York in 2004. Last year, he was labeled ‘‘Stray-Rod’’ on the front page of the New York Post after being photographed out at night with a former Vegas stripper.

‘‘I think for Alex, he’s been through this before, he knows how to handle it,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday. ‘‘I’m sure there are times he wishes he could just fit in. That’s the price you pay.

‘‘Obviously, everyone likes to keep their life private. Unfortunately, in this world, that doesn’t happen.’’

Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner didn’t seem too concerned when asked if his star player can keep his off-field problems from affecting his play.

‘‘Everybody has personal problems to deal with. Just playing baseball doesn’t change that anymore than it does for anybody else,’’ Steinbrenner said at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa, Fla. ‘‘But I’m sure he’ll be fine.’’

Rodriguez is in the first season of a $275 million, 10-year contract with the Yankees, a deal that allows him to earn up to $305 million. He made $185.45 million from 2001-7 from his contract with the Texas Rangers and Yankees.