NEW YORK (AP) – Alex Rodriguez will have to show in spring training that he can still can play third base for the New York Yankees.
Rodriguez served a season-long suspension for violations of baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract. The three-time AL MVP turns 40 on July 27.
“We’ve got to see where he’s physically at, and if he can play the field, how many days he can play the field and how many days he needs to DH,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said at a news conference Monday as he turned his attention to next season. `I don’t think really many of us know about him until we actually get him into games in spring training.”
New York missed consecutive postseasons for the first time since 1992 and `93 and at 84-78 has had declining winstotals in three straight seasons for the first time since 1986-90. The Yankees scored 633 runs, 13th among the 15 AL teams, and their .307 on-base percentage was ahead of only Seattle.
While Derek Jeter is retiring, Rodriguez plans to come back. A-Rod is signed for three additional seasons for a total of $61 million, part of his record $275 million, 10-year contract.
“He hasn’t played in a year. That’s not easy to do, to sit out a year,” Girardi said. “Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely. Do we expect him to play third base? Yes. But in fairness I think you have to see where he’s at.”
As for whether the Yankees will ask Rodriguez to take grounders at first base, where he could back up the oft-injured Mark Teixeira, Girardi said “that’s something that we have not talked about yet.”
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