A-Rod Looking Forward to Return
BOSTON -- There is positive news regarding communication between Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Alex Rodriguez, for a change.
While the team says goodbye to longtime Shortstop Derek Jeter, it prepares to welcome back A-Rod, who's suspension will come to an end after the Yankees' final game Sunday, with open arms.
“I’ve already been talking to A-Rod personally," said Cashman. "I reached out to Alex about ten days ago. I talked to him trying to get his thought process on what’s the best way to come back."
During Rodriguez's Biogenesis scandal, Cashman told Rodriguez to "shut the f*** up," while A-Rod sued the team's doctor and the league - suits he would later drop.
The feeling today at Fenway Park didn't seem so hostile.
"I just approached it as I have like any player, I've got questions I need answered here on what's best going next and I needed the player to be involved in the process," Cashman said. "So we had a good conversation on that end. I would term it good. I didn't re-hash anything from the past. It’s not productive to do so. He's been suspended. He served his time. It gets completed by tomorrow.”
The Yankees' GM called his conversations with Rodriguez "very professional."
"He responded immediately," Cashman said. "He was out in California and told me where he was at physically, he told me how excited he was to get back into play, gave his ideas about what he wants to do mapping this winter out in terms of who he’s going to work with and how he’s going to prepare. Winter ball was taken off the table when I asked him if that was an avenue he wanted to pursue.”
Is the fact Rodriguez doesn't want to play winter ball an issue?
“No judgment on it, no issue with it, no concern with it,” he said. In fact, it saved him the labor of sorting out with the insurance company whether or not winter ball would be covered.
That's about the extent of the insurance company's involvement, though, as Cashman relayed that Alex Rodriguez had passed an in-season physical and was "fit to compete." That would logically mean the team won't have the ability to void his contract even if they wished to.
In fact, that may be the last thing on their minds. With Jeter leaving, an infield spot opens up. More than that, though, the team loses their clubhouse leader. In some capacity, that could be filled by Alex Rodriguez.
“I don’t necessarily think he would say 'I want to be that', but Alex, at heart, is a teacher," said Manager Joe Girardi. "He likes to teach the game and where you’re supposed to be, and how to play the position. He likes to talk about hitting. Alex loves to talk about the game."
The fact A-Rod doesn't seek out to be 'the guy' may actually be a positive.
“You don’t know how any of these guys are going to react if people start coming to them to be the guy, to be the voice," Girardi said. "In the late 90’s, it wasn’t one guy. And that’s ok with me too. I’m not asking for there to be one guy. Let there be a number of voices who know how to lead down there. It makes it easier for them, actually.” He mentioned Rodriguez has never had to take on a role like Jeter has in his years at the captain.
A-Rod will be looked upon next year, at the very least, for a steady bat. Cashman admitted today the team's fault came in its inability to sort out offensive problems. And, while he just turned 39 this July, Rodriguez may be of use.
Yankees infielders hit an unspectacular .241 this year, while the DH spot was just .225 with a .657 OPS. A-Rod hit .244 in 156 at-bats in 2013 with 7 HRs. That projects to 25 HRs for a full season.
Still, that was a year ago, and as Brian Cashman admits, it's unknown what this A-Rod will look like on a baseball diamond. "It's the same as it was with Teixeira and Jeter," he said. With questions coing into the year regarding both of them, they didn't exactly silence the critics. They'll roar louder than ever now at Rodriguez.