Less than three days after taking his Yankee uniform off for the final time, Alex Rodriguez has no plans on putting on a new one again this season.
Miami general manager Mike Hill told reporters over the weekend that the 41-year-old was on the Marlins’ list of options after they lost slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a groin strain, sparking fervent speculation that the ex-Yankee would be back on a big-league field before too long.
Monday, Ron Berkowitz, A-Rod’s publicist, said in no uncertain terms that Friday night was Rodriguez’s final game of 2016.
“I want to put all this talk to rest about Alex playing for any team this season,” Berkowitz said in a statement. “It’s not happening. Like he said Friday night, he is happy and he is going to take some time to relax and hang with his family and friends.”
A-Rod’s Yankees sendoff Friday night at the Stadium went about as well as he could have hoped, from his first-inning RBI double to his ninth-inning cameo at third base. There was nothing but love from the fans as he bid farewell to New York after 13 seasons, and he seemed genuinely at peace with his impending release when all was said and done.
“I’ve got to tell you, it’s going to be tough to top that,” Rodriguez said after Friday’s game when asked if, in his heart, he had just played his final big-league game. “That’s a memory that I will own forever.”
A-Rod said he “probably won’t be answering the phone for anyone” in baseball other than Hal Steinbrenner, who gave him a contract through the end of 2017 as a special adviser/instructor that begins next spring.
That didn’t stop Hill and the Marlins from putting their interest out there over the weekend. The Marlins never formally reached out to A-Rod, though Berkowitz’s statement seemed to quash any chance for a 2016 comeback.
“I was under the impression, somewhat, that it would be the end for the season,” Joe Girardi said Monday. “But opportunities arise for people in life that you can’t predict. There’s been some situations down there where (the Marlins) have had some injuries, and maybe they felt that he could help. And I don’t say this in a bad way, but nothing that Alex does should ever surprise us.”
Girardi said he was “not shocked” that A-Rod’s name came up with the Marlins given that he’s from Miami, as managers and GMs often consider every possible player when they’re looking to fill a hole on the roster. A-Rod obviously wouldn’t be able to fill Stanton’s spot in right field, but there always are creative ways to find at-bats for a player if a team is looking to do so.
“I think you could think about a lot of things, so I’m not surprised that the topic came up,” Girardi said.
It’s also possible A-Rod has realized that Father Time has finally caught up with him, something he hinted at Friday night.
“I saw Gary Sanchez have a series in Boston, and I looked at him and said, ‘I can’t do that any more,’” Rodriguez said. “And I was happy about it. I’m at peace.”
Whether A-Rod gets the itch again this winter remains to be seen — keep in mind, Berkowitz’s statement specifically says “this season” — but Friday night’s farewell might just prove to be the perfect ending for a player who has been as concerned with optics as any in recent memory.
“It’s possible that it did and maybe he wants to hold onto that,” Girardi said when asked if he thought Friday’s events served as an ideal backdrop for A-Rod’s final game in the majors. “It’s hard for me to predict. I’m sure his girls have something to do with this. School has started down there. I’m sure there are a lot of factors in this. Maybe he wants to sit and wait a couple of months to see how he feels and where he’s at mentally. It’s hard to say. But I know how much he loves the game, and I know how much he loves to compete. So, like I said, nothing is going to surprise me.”