BALTIMORE -- "I miss simply being a baseball player,"
No one knew at the time that Rodriguez wouldn't be able take the field for the Yankees for nearly three months, due to an injured right hip that required surgery on March 9. But on Friday evening in Baltimore, barring a last-minute setback or a resumption of the rain that has wreaked havoc on baseball in the Northeast for much of the past week, Rodriguez will finally get his wish: He will, once again, play third base for the New York Yankees. Things won't ever be the same as they were before this tumultuous off-season, for him or for his teammates or for his (mostly former) fans. And yet, in many ways, A-Rod's return couldn't come at a better time.
While Thursday's revelation that
The timing of A-Rod's return seems even more fortuitous for the stumbling Yankees, who are 13-15 and the losers of five straight, and who need his bat, and need it now. "We think it's great," manager
While Rodriguez certainly constitutes an important piece to reinsert into the Yankees' lineup -- and he will offer some protection to fellow Boras client
The Yankees have publicly expressed confidence that they'll be getting back the Rodriguez of old, and that he'll make a real difference for them -- "He's A-Rod," Teixeira said on Thursday, "he's going to put up MVP numbers every single year" -- but what else can they say? They've got a billion-and-a-half dollar new stadium that they're struggling to fill, and a $200 million dollar roster with which they can't so far win, and they have to believe in the idea that Rodriguez will be the difference-maker. On Friday night we'll have our first chance to see whether that's going to prove true.