Alex Rodriguez owns the news-producing flair of a head of state or Taylor Swift, so it’s no surprise that he’s back in headlines because someone else is talking about him. The Marlins need a slugger now that Giancarlo Stanton is likely to miss the rest of the regular season, and their president of baseball operations says A-Rod would be on the list of potential replacement choices.
Rodriguez suiting up for his hometown Marlins as they contend for their first playoff berth since 2003, on the heels of his Yankee departure? Ah, delicious.
What was that loud noise? The Internet overloading?
If Rodriguez wants to continue playing and take a shot at 700 home runs, he should do just that. We’ve all got the right to follow our bliss, right? And the most genuine thing about Rodriguez, professionally, is that he loves, loves, loves baseball.
As his Yankee career wound down last week, it seemed clear that he thought he still has something to offer a club, though Joe Girardi and others in the Yankees’ corridors of power didn’t seem to agree. A-Rod certainly wasn’t using the word “retire,” though he talked about how difficult it would be to top the sendoff he got in the Bronx, meteorological metaphors hovering over the Stadium in the form of storm clouds and all.
Rodriguez will have to weigh what impact playing elsewhere will have on his job teaching Yankee youngsters, which is supposed to start next year. He’s always been very good at mentoring younger players and he seems genuine in that he wants to keep doing it. Remember, he’s always been fascinated with player development, back to when he pored over the scouting reports about Rangers’ prospects before signing that notorious $ 252 million contract.
Asked last Thursday if he would clear another playing opportunity with Hal Steinbrenner, the Yanks’ principal owner, Rodriguez said, “That’s a hypothetical. Anything that I do, I would clear with Hal first. But I’m not getting there. That’s how I would handle it, though.”
Of course, he’ll have to prove he can still play. He did not earn at-bats toward the end of his Yankee tenure and his season stat line is pretty hideous — .200 average, .247 on-base percentage, .351 slugging percentage and nine homers and 31 RBI in 225 at-bats. Blah.
And that’s just the hitting. Where does Rodriguez fit for a National League club that won’t enjoy the use of the designated hitter? He wasn’t exactly graceful at first base for the Yankees when he stood there for two games (one start) last season. Plus, the experiment of using him there some this season was quickly chucked.
Here’s what Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill said about his club’s possible pursuit of Rodriguez, who has 696 career homers and was released by the Yankees on Saturday: “We’re going to look at everything. There has been information out there about his situation. I have no idea what his interest level is to continue playing. He has something set up to move into the Yankees’ front office. I don’t know where his head is on that.”
Based on what Girardi said at several points last week, it doesn’t seem like he’d be surprised if Rodriguez played again.
“It’s hard to take the uniform off,” Girardi said on Friday. “He has never mentioned that he’s retiring. And he might get the itch. I can’t tell you, so I can’t speak for him. I know he has a contract to work with us as a kind of special assistant, but there was nothing that said — that’s the way I heard it from Cash (GM Brian Cashman) — that he couldn’t play.”
Asked at another point last week if Rodriguez could thrive with another team, Girardi said, “You know, we started to give the at-bats to other people because of what we saw.
“He was a guy that was always so productive for us. You know, I don’t know. I don’t know if there would be a right situation out there for him. He’s going to be 42 (next year) and he doesn’t really play a position, so that’s hard for me to say.”