With more controversy surrounding him than anyone else in baseball, Alex Rodriguez arrived at spring training two days early. When asked about the 2015 season, Rodriguez repeatedly said he just wants to focus on making the team.
“I love to compete,” Rodriguez said. “I’m here a couple days early to get a jump start. I love baseball. I just love to be in uniform and I’m so grateful to have an opportunity to be back in uniform.”
Many Major Leaguers show up to spring training early and it’s usually a good sign to see them working out before they are required to, but according to reports, some Yankees’ executives were “fuming” that A-Rod showed up early unannounced.
“He’s learned nothing,” said one baseball executive. “He’s the same old guy. He just did what he wanted to do.”
If anything, A-Rod’s early arrival proved to be low-key, which is great for him and the Yankees. Only about 20 media members awaited his arrival Monday, which is only a small fraction of the number of reporters that were expected for his arrival Wednesday.
Rodriguez planned to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex at 11 a.m. but once the team executives found out, they asked him to take a physical before any baseball activities.
“All our players are required to take physicals before they start working,” Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez complied and got checked up before heading to throw, take some groundballs and hit.
“It feels great to be back,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously it was a rough year, but I’m very excited that’s behind me and I have a chance to hopefully make this team.
“I created a big headache for a lot of people, so I don’t blame whoever is mad at me. I understand,” he added.
Without forgetting all of his lying and cheating at one point, let’s look at this from a different perspective. A-rod apologized and acknowledged he made mistakes in the past. He appears to be the kind of player that loves baseball, loves to be in uniform, and loves to play America’s pastime. He paid his dues by serving the longest PED related suspension in Major League history (162 games) and like anybody else who makes mistakes, he deserves a chance to make up for it.
“I cringe sometimes when I look at some of the things I did, but I paid my penalty and I’m grateful that I have another opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “No mistake that I’ve made has any good answer or a justification. It’s unexplainable and that’s on me. I’ve dug a big hole for myself and paid a price. I’m fortunate for a lot of people -- especially the Commissioner’s office, the players union and the Yankees -- to give me an opportunity to play the game that I love.”
A-Rod is set to make $61 million in the next three years plus some bonuses for hitting milestone homeruns—660, 714, 755 and tying and breaking the record 762 held by Barry Bonds. He has 654 homeruns going into 2015, which means he will likely reach 660 this season.
During a meeting between Rodriguez and the Yankees a few weeks ago, the Yankees reportedly said thei will not pay him for the bonuses like the contract says. But that is a whole new story that will surface once A-Rod reaches that first milestone.