NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have warned slugger Alex Rodriguez that frequenting illegal city poker clubs is dangerous, but are powerless to stop him, team and baseball sources said.
Major League Baseball sources said Rodriguez wasn't ordered to stay out of the clubs - but added baseball commissioner Bud Selig was "keeping an eye" on him and would step in "if necessary."
"There's nothing he's doing that violates the morals clause," one baseball lawyer said. "Mostly it's just stupid. Why put himself in a position like that? Why doesn't he go play in an apartment somewhere?"
Sources familiar with Rodriguez's conversation with Yankee officials last month said the talk wasn't confrontational.
"No one admonished him," a source said. "But he was made aware that this could put him in an unflattering light or look bad in the media."
Rodriguez's taste for underground poker came to light in a Daily News story Oct. 2 that reported he had frequented a Chelsea club with professional card shark Phil Hellmuth.
Baseball officials are concerned about one of their biggest stars being associated with an illegal gambling operation. But there is little either the Yankees or Selig can do to stop Rodriguez, officials say, because he isn't breaking the law, even if the club operators are.
Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, denied that the third baseman had been warned about playing in illegal clubs.
MLB spokesman Rich Levin declined to comment.