Alex Rodriguez will play his final game as a Yankee on Friday night, after which he will become one of the highest paid team advisors in sports history.
Or so the Yankees say.
“That might be a very short-lived job if somebody out there with a 25-man roster spot wants to hand him one – or, not too far off in the distance now, Sept. 1, when the rosters expand and you can add him onto your team for nothing and see him go try and hit four more home runs to try and get to 700,” Bergen Record Yankees beat writer Pete Caldera said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “But yeah, it’s been strange, but listen, it’s Alex Rodriguez. Did you expect it was going to be anything more than controversial or strange when he took his final bows?”
No, probably not.
Rodriguez, 41, has had countless highs and lows throughout his major league career, and this season has been more of the latter than the former. He is hitting .199 with nine home runs, 30 RBIs and a .247 OBP in 64 games.
“He was a presence and has been a presence in New York and in this game unlike anyone we’ve seen in recent times,” Caldera said. “The whole lightning rod thing, that certainly applies to him right up until the end. I guess it could have been slightly less of a circus. It’s a strange time of the year to be doing this because it’s not September. It’s not like when Pettitte or Jeter or Mariano left the Yankees late in season and in seasons when the games didn’t matter to them. I believe Joe Girardi when he says he’s still trying to win – and look, they took two out of three from the Red Sox.”
The Yankees are now 58-56 and trail the Red Sox (61-52) by three-and-a-half games in the AL Wild Card.
“I wouldn’t put a whole lot of money on the Yankees stealing a wild card here, but it’s an odd time of year to be doing something like this in the middle of August,” Caldera said. “Yeah, the games mean something to the Yankees, they certainly mean something to the Red Sox, and you’ve got a manager in the visiting dugout who wants to put the best lineup out on the field that can compete. It’s just a strange dynamic all the way around.”
The Yankees open a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Friday, with CC Sabathia taking the hill at 7:05 p.m. ET. All eyes will be on Rodriguez.
“It’s going to be theater one way or the other, whether he comes up and strikes out three times or he’s pulled in the middle of the game or somehow it turns into a blowout and Joe gives him a half an inning at third base,” Caldera said. “However it happens, it’s going to be theater. There’s no real script to this obviously. There is a way to script certain endings when Jeter and Pettitte took Mariano Rivera out of his last game. This one, who knows because he doesn’t play a position. If a pinch-hit situation comes up where Girardi feels he’s got a better chance to win with a guy in his dugout instead of A-Rod, he’s probably going to go there too, so who knows? But whatever it is, it’s going to be theater.”