Almost forgotten from the hive mind of baseball fans, Alex Rodriguez is trying to make something of a comeback with the New York Yankees, showing up early for spring training in an attempt to give everything a ‘business as usual’ flavor to it, although it’s quite clear it’s not.
Rodriguez has been caught using PEDs twice and has been caught lying about it twice. He missed the entirety of the 2014 season because of his suspension, although his injuries and surgeries would have kept him out for a very long time. But now he’s back after not playing in a MLB game since September 13, 2013. The Yankees would love it if he would just go away and are doing their best to make him feel unwanted. But Rodriguez wants to be in the spotlight, and lets not forget the money he’s owed.
He is still going to make $61 million over the next three years, despite kicking off a spring session for the first time in almost 20 years without a guaranteed spot in the hitting lineup. The Yankees signed Chase Headley to be their starter at third base. Rodriguez is going to get time playing as a designated hitter, and is planned to face mostly left handed pitchers during training. How much time is he going to get on the field this season as he approaches his 40th birthday? That’s not quite clear.
Rodriguez played only 44 games in 2013, but was on the plate for the Yankees in 122 games back in 2012, hitting a .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs. Obviously, he’s still dreaming about breaking the home run record currently held by Barry Bonds, which also means a lot of bonuses for him, something the Yankees are trying to contest they’re not going to pay. It’s been a long, ambiguous relationship between baseball and PED users for a very long time. Rodriguez isn’t alone as an example of not quite knowing how to deal with it.
As for the training itself, he didn’t do much. Some hitting over the fence (with the pitcher putting the ball right where he wanted it), routine throwing and fielding balls at third base and shortstop and also some sprinting at half speed. Nothing too impressive, but he was the main event at the training complex and the surrounding area, spending 15 minutes after practice signing autographs and curtly answering reporters.
The Yankees insist that he’s going to be treated by the ballclub like any other player, but they’re not fooling anyone. Rodriguez generates attention and media interest despite not being a prominent player for at least three or four seasons. He’s a player that has his own team trying to avoid paying him money, the first bonus being a potential upcoming $6 million for reaching 660 home runs, only four big hits away from Rodriguez. For good and bad, Rodriguez is nothing like other players – not on the Yankees, or baseball in general.
But is he going to be helpful for this team? The Yankees were 10th in AL batting average (.247), dead last in the league in home runs by right handed batters and 14th in OPS with a .653. It’s hard to say if Rodriguez can actually lift those numbers but he is confident that if he stays healthy, which is a big IF, he can do some good things, even if he isn’t using PEDs anymore. That cloud of doubt will never go away, no matter how old he gets.