A-Rod not planning to retire
"Alex has no plans at all to retire,'' one source with close, personal ties to the embattled third baseman told ESPNNewYork.com on Thursday.
Another source, authorized by Rodriguez to speak on his behalf, passed this along: "Alex says he's working diligently on his rehabilitation and is looking forward to getting back on the field as soon as possible.''
Although neither of those statements mention Rodriguez returning to the Yankees, with whom he has been at odds since last October's playoffs, he is under contract with the team through 2017 and is owed $114 million, plus a possible $30 million more in incentive bonuses based on reaching career home run milestones.
Since the disclosure this week of the presence of Rodriguez's name in the records of Anthony Bosch, a "nutritionist'' whose Miami-area anti-aging clinic is suspected of supplying human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, speculation has run rampant that perhaps Rodriguez never would play another game for the Yankees.
One report even went so far as to suggest that Rodriguez might retire from baseball, leaving behind the remaining money on his contract. But the word coming out of Miami, where Rodriguez has been rehabbing since undergoing hip surgery earlier this month, tells a different story.
Both sources paint a picture of a player who, although stung by what he believes is a campaign by the Yankees to rid themselves of his onerous contract, is working hard to return to action sometime after the All-Star break.
When informed of Rodriguez's comments, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who had avoided commenting publicly on Rodriguez's latest incident, responded with one word: "Good.''
Earlier this week, ESPNewYork.com reported, citing sources, that the Yankees would explore multiple options to void Rodriguez's contract, which was extended for 10 years after his MVP season in 2007.
"(The Yankees are) looking at about 20 different things,'' said a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, although it did not appear that a PED violation would be one of them.
Baseball's collective bargaining agreement gives all power to punish drug offenders to the commissioner's office, and prohibits teams from taking any further action over and above the penalties stipulated in the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
In Rodriguez's case, that would be a 50-game suspension for a first offense, despite his 2009 admission of earlier steroid use, and only if MLB's investigators can establish a legitimate link between Rodriguez and the entries in Bosch's notebook.
That would mean either an admission of wrongdoing, evidence of a prescription written to Rodriguez for an illegal substance, or a sworn affidavit from Bosch that is accepted as fact by an impartial arbiter.
One avenue that appeared open to the club: the possibility that it could penalize Rodriguez and perhaps even void the rest of his contract by establishing his hip injury was the result of PED use. However, that may have been eliminated when Dr. Bryan Kelly, the surgeon who repaired the torn labrum in Rodriguez's left hip, told reporters that the injury was the result of a congenital condition and not drug-related.
However, if Rodriguez was unable to play again because of the injury, the Yankees could recoup a good portion of the money owed to him through the insurance policy on his contract.
Rodriguez's relationship with the team was damaged in October, when his poor performance in the postseason -- three hits, 12 strikeouts in 25 at-bats (.120) -- resulted in his being pinch hit for three times and benched for three games, including two elimination games.
Rodriguez's troubles on the field were compounded by an incident at Yankee Stadium, when he was spotted flirting with and tossing a baseball to a woman in the stands after being removed from a playoff game.
The Yankees were further not pleased when Rodriguez authorized his doctor to speak publicly about his injury without consulting the club.
And when the current scandal broke Tuesday via an in-depth investigative story by the Miami New Times, club officials were said to be "fed up'' with their lightning-rod third baseman.
"If this turns out to be true,'' one insider said, "then I think it's all over for Alex.''
But according to friends, Rodriguez remains committed to his future in the game.