(UPDATE – Alex Rodriguez’s spokesman said Monday afternoon that a potential return to baseball with some team other than the Yankees is not happening in 2016. Still no word directly from A-Rod)
Working right now on a print column about Alex Rodriguez as a possible pickup for the Miami Marlins after being cut by the Yankees.
The shorthand version is that such a move would work just fine for me if they don’t have to pay him. Dog days of summer, looking for a boost, Giancarlo Stanton is out and the player in discussion has 696 home runs. Where, other than the fact A-Rod can’t seem to hit these days, is the problem?
Meanwhile, here is a column I wrote last summer when A-Rod and the Yankees played at Marlins Stadium. It speaks of the excitement his one pinch-hit appearance brought to the game that night, and of the possibility that he and the team might one day get together if ever the money problem could be solved.
Give it a read for some 2015 quotes from A-Rod about loving Miami, his hometown, and admiring Jeffrey Loria for what he has done with Marlins Park.
(Dave George, Palm Beach Post columnist, in a reprint from June 16, 2015)
Could disgraced slugger wind up career in childhood home of Miami?
Do you loathe Alex Rodriguez enough to totally shun him and the famous pinstripes that clothe him in credibility? Judging by Monday night’s attendance, a sassy crowd of 33,961 to watch the New York Yankees lose 2-1 to Miami at Marlins Park, the answer is no.
Now comes the tougher question. Could you tolerate A-Rod enough to enthusiastically welcome him to Miami by trade some day?
That would take some serious rethinking for a fan base that doesn’t show up regularly to watch Giancarlo Stanton, a young slugger with no steroid history.
It would take some compromise by the Yankees, too, because Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria isn’t about to take on the megamillions that A-Rod is owed through 2017. Still, A-Rod on the verge of 40 is an everyday spectacle with his 666 home runs and what soon will be membership in the 3,000-hit club.
He lit the stadium up Monday with a two-out pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning. His game-ending fly ball to right field had everybody screaming, pro and con.
“I’ve gotta tell you,” A-Rod said without prompting before Monday’s game, “I think Jeff Loria is doing a great job with his franchise. Obviously, he built an incredible-looking stadium and Miami is an incredible market for baseball. It’s a beautiful park. It seems fair and I’m just so proud being a Floridian that we get this beautiful piece of art in the middle of our city.”
Never mind that Loria didn’t build the stadium alone in the public-private financing frenzy that made Marlins Park happen. Never mind that Miami is an incredible market for World Series play alone.
The details matter less than the dance if A-Rod and the Marlins are ever going to get together, next year or any year. He’s high-maintenance in every way, rarely plays in the field and, because the National League doesn’t have the DH, his value here might be in the all-or-nothing category of late-inning pinch-hitter. Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not start A-Rod Monday and likely won’t again today for the conclusion of the two-game series here.
Still, being back in Miami clearly makes A-Rod feel like a kid again, poking holes in the impossible.
“These milestones,” he said, “have made me kind of take a step back and think about my childhood when I grew up here in Miami, watching Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez on TV and then running to my backyard and literally taking a hundred swings and then going to watch their other at-bats and then doing it again.
“I would do that over and over again nightly. Some people think it’s obsessive. Even my biggest haters would say, though, that I’m disciplined and a hard worker.”
He’s trying to soften the image by speaking of his baseball genesis, and not of Biogenesis. Missing an entire season will do that to you, and that’s what cheating did to A-Rod in 2014.
“This year has been an amazing experience for me,” Rodriguez said. “I know that a lot of people gave up on me. There were days that I gave up on myself. It’s been a long, long journey back .”
Derek Jeter didn’t do all this talking but was adored on the day of his retirement as Yankees captain. A-Rod could talk forever and never gain that level of respect, even though he has regained his importance as a Yankees run-producer. He’s lied too often to too many, and knows it.
“It’s good when we start kind of getting rid of the old, like me,” he said, “and start introducing some of these great new talents.”
He was speaking specifically of Stanton, who is nearly 500 homers behind Rodriguez but working on a fresh new kind of awesome.
Rodriguez, called by Miami manager Dan Jennings “the most talented player I ever scouted,” doesn’t sparkle like that now but still he burns.
Some day when the Yankees are done with him, that lingering heat, even if it’s just a low-grade A-Rod fever, could be useful to the Marlins.