Alex Rodriguez is going to be the number one headline in New York all season whether he wants to be or not. This spring, he’s trying to silence critics by proving he can still play the game.
The New York Yankees are going to be facing some decisions as the season gets closer. One of the biggest questions they had coming into the season was how much people would see Alex Rodriguez and where he would be playing. So far this spring though, Rodriguez has done a good job of silencing critics and is playing like a guy who deserves to be playing every day.
Alex Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season as he was suspended for his part in the Biogenesis steroid scandal. Not only did he miss the 2014, but he also missed most of 2013 due to injury. He actually made his debut on the day that the suspensions were handed out. Rodriguez would have missed the rest of the 2013 season, but he appealed his suspension and that in turn made the league go harder after him. Rodriguez was given the opportunity to miss the remainder of 2013 or fight it and risk losing all of 2014. He fought it and lost.
This spring, Rodriguez has played very well. He is hitting .300 with a home run, two RBI and is walking as often as he is striking out. His OBP is .417 and is among the leader of the everyday players on the team. He has looked good so far and is one of the leaders in the team in plate appearances. Rodriguez is seeing the ball well and it looks like he used that year off to stay in playing shape, as it looks like he’s barely missed a step. This could be a big boost to the Yankees offense, which struggled at times last season.
New York isn’t sure where to play Rodriguez, as he cannot return to third base where he has played for the past 10 years. New York re-signed third baseman Chase Headley to a four year, $44 million deal over the offseason and he is younger and a better fielder. There was some thought that Rodriguez might get some time at first base. He wouldn’t be a starter at first base, as New York still has Mark Teixeira under contract for two more years and $23 million. In spring so far, Rodriguez hasn’t made an appearance at first base; instead, extra playing time has gone to Garrett Jones.
Before people started thinking that Rodriguez would play first, the primary thought was that he would be the team’s designated hitter. This makes the most sense; put the oldest player on the team in a spot where he can’t hurt the team defensively. The only problem is that there are a couple of players who could also benefit from the designated hitter position. Right fielder Carlos Beltran has been beat up over the past couple of years and spent a lot of time in the DH position. On top of Beltran, there is thoughts that catcher Brian McCann would see a few games there to get a break from the rigors of catching.
If the Yankees had it their way, they would cut Rodriguez and be done with him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that in baseball, and there is no team that would take on Rodriguez’s contract. He is owed $64 million over the next three seasons and that is way too much for a 39-year-old. New York has been looking into legal action to get back some of the money they have paid and still owe Rodriguez. If the Yankees recoup some of this money, they will most likely use that to buy out the remainder of the contract. Since it looks like the Yankees are stuck with him, the question turns to where the aging slugger will play.
Last season, the Yankees desperately needed some offense from the designated hitter position so they would welcome any production. Love him or hate him, Rodriguez is one of the most polarizing players in the league, but at least now it looks like he can still play. Yankees fans shouldn’t be too beat up over the fact that Rodriguez is with the team, because at the very least it appears he can still swing the bat. At the end of the day, so long as he continues to do that, he’ll have a place in the Bronx.