A-Rod to start Thursday for Yankees at Fenway Park

BOSTON (AP) Alex Rodriguez's memories of Fenway Park are as textured as the complicated story of his 22-year career.

This week, A-Rod will wear a Yankees uniform in Boston as a player for the final time. He will start in the finale of New York's three-game series on Thursday night before playing his final game with the team at home the next night.

Manager Joe Girardi announced the plans for A-Rod in Boston prior to Tuesday night's series opener. After Friday's game against the Rays, Rodriguez will be released and shift into a role as a special adviser.

Girardi said Sunday he would get Rodriguez as many innings as possible this week, but said Tuesday he got caught up in the emotions of Sunday's announcement and instead will prioritize the Yankees' pursuit of a playoff spot.

Rodriguez said he is disappointed but excited to start at least one more time at Fenway Park, where he made his major league debut in 1994.

''It's a great chance to give me one big, loud boo on the way out and send me to Miami,'' Rodriguez said. ''The one thing is, I love Boston. It's a great city. I love Fenway Park. I started here. My mother and brother and sister were here. I want my girls to go to college somewhere in Boston - I'm not going to say where. But somewhere in Boston. It should be fun.''

The three-time AL MVP and 14-time All-Star was hitting .204 this season with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 216 at-bats. The struggles have relegated him to a diminished role. He hasn't played since Aug. 2 and has appeared in just 62 games this season.

''This has been really difficult, because I think we all expected him to have a good year,'' Girardi said. ''Me and Alex have been through a lot - I mean a lot - over the years that I've been here. Hopefully when we all get away from this, he remembers more good than bad.''

It's unclear if Rodriguez's career will actually end Friday. The 41-year-old designated hitter remained noncommittal when asked if he was definitely retiring as a player after Friday's game.

''I'm going to really enjoy the last three or four days,'' he said.

Rodriguez nearly came to Boston from Texas before the 2004 season, but the players' union rejected the deal because it hinged on Rodriguez taking a $40 million pay cut. He then was traded to New York.

''We had the deal worked out. We had a lot of people involved and at the very end - in the ninth inning with two outs - it was vetoed,'' Rodriguez said. ''That was an emotional roller coaster. So often you think about what could have been.''

He said he has no regrets about how things eventually worked out.

''I thought it was an exciting potential,'' he said. ''But things turned out incredible for the Red Sox. It turned out well for us. We have four championships between us. ... But overall, I thought the game grew incredibly. I thought the game might've been at its height when you think about those playoffs in '04, '05, '06. It was a good time for baseball.''

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower

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