NEW YORK (AP) The closer spring training gets, the more apparent it becomes that Alex Rodriguez will have to prove to the New York Yankees that he can play third base after a yearlong layoff.
''I don't know what to expect with Alex. I think it's every color on the rainbow,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday during a telephone conference call to discuss the acquisitions of reliever Andrew Miller and shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Rodriguez, the three-time AL MVP, was suspended last season for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract. He is owed $61 million by the Yankees in the final three seasons of his contract.
Chase Headley, who took over as the starter when he was obtained from San Diego in July, appears likely to leave as a free agent. When Cashman discussed third base possibilities during his call, he mentioned Martin Prado, another summertime acquisition.
He did not list A-Rod.
Cashman said, ''I avoid actually penciling his name in'' and said he strives to answer questions about Rodriguez ''as honestly and diplomatically at the same time as I possibly can.''
''The extreme hope is that you get the middle-of-the-lineup bat that can play third whenever you want, if not all the time, and be a productive middle-of-the-lineup hitter,'' Cashman said. ''`But at the same time, the worst-case scenario is that he's no longer a third baseman and is not a productive bat and you're looking to find places to play, whether it's in the DH role or spot starter here or there at third.''
Rodriguez turns 40 on July 27 and has not played a full season since 2007 due to leg injuries, operations on both hips and the long suspension.
''I don't know where on that spectrum we're going to fall,'' Cashman said. ''We'll find out once we're getting through spring training, he's knocking the rust off of playing again. He'll be in great shape. He usually always is. Normally, that's the guy that we're used to.''
Rodriguez admitted in 2009 he used performance-enhancing substances from 2001-03 while with Texas, but he repeatedly denied using PEDs while playing for the Yankees. Given a grant of immunity by federal prosecutors, Rodriguez told investigators he did use banned substances between late 2010 and October 2012 supplied by Anthony Bosch, according to Drug Enforcement Administration documents provided by the government to defense lawyers. Bosch owned the Biogenesis of America clinic in Coral Gables, Florida.