Rebuilding Yankees to leave A-Rod with reduced playing time
NEW YORK (AP) His time with the New York Yankees drawing near an end following more than a decade of controversy, Alex Rodriguez proclaimed: ''No matter what happens, I'm at peace with myself.''
After trading four veterans and turning their attention toward rebuilding, the Yankees appear to have little or no use for a 41-year-old designated hitter with a .204 batting average, one whose playing time has all but disappeared in the past month.
''I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse,'' Rodriguez said Tuesday, ''but if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.''
Four home runs shy of 700, he trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) on the career list. But he may not get there with the Yankees, who want to test youth after giving up hope on the present by dealing Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Carlos Beltran and Ivan Nova for 10 prospects, pitcher Adam Warren and two players to be named.
''In maybe the near future, do I see him getting a ton of at-bats?'' manager Joe Girardi said at Citi Field before the Yankees' 7-1 loss to the Mets. ''No, I probably don't, because of some of the changes that we're possibly going to make here.''
Rodriguez pinch-hit in the ninth inning and hit a game-ending flyout to shallow right, just his seventh at-bat since July 22. He has nine homers and 29 RBIs this year, and only four hits in his last 37 at-bats.
Earlier this month, Beltran displaced A-Rod from his DH slot. Touted catcher Gary Sanchez, expected to be called up before Wednesday's game against the Mets in the Bronx, is among the players likely to see time at DH going forward.
Rodriguez has a $20 million salary this year and is owed $20 million in 2017, the final season of his $275 million, 10-year deal. The money makes a trade unlikely, leading to speculation he will be designated for assignment and then released.
''My plans are for him to be there tomorrow with us,'' Girardi said after the game.
Owner Hal Steinbrenner, speaking Tuesday on an ESPN radio show simulcast on the team's YES Network, said decision-makers had not gotten that far.
''I haven't discussed with the baseball people anything about what we're going to be doing in the hours and days to come,'' he said.
''The last two weeks have been about trades, trades, trades,'' he added, before dropping a hint: ''My job is to do what's best for the organization.''
For now, Rodriguez is prepared to mentor while he sits when healthy for the most time since he was a rookie with Seattle in 1994.
''At-bats are going to come if they come,'' he said. ''If they don't, they don't. I know that when I was 18 years old and in a big league clubhouse, it was instrumental to have guidance, to have guys like Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner to show me the way.''
Sanchez likely isn't the only new face to get playing time. Young outfielder Aaron Judge, sidelined since early July by a knee injury, was activated from the disabled list Tuesday and went 1 for 3 with a double for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. New outfielder Clint Frazier, the top prospect obtained from Cleveland in the Miller deal, was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in his RailRiders debut.
Second-year pitcher Luis Severino also is back up with the Yankees after impressing last summer and struggling this spring. Greg Bird is expected to take over from Mark Teixeira at first base next year after missing all of 2016 following shoulder surgery.
Ever since the Yankees acquired Rodriguez from Texas before the 2004 season, he has been the center of attention, whether winning his second and third AL MVP awards, admitting in 2009 he used performance-enhancing drugs, helping New York win the World Series later that year or serving a one-year drug-related suspension in 2014.
''I know that the organization has a brighter future today than it did last week, and hopefully I'm part of that equation,'' Rodriguez said. ''But if not, I can accept it very clearly.''