Now we know, without waiting for a lawsuit or an appeal hearing, that Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for all of 2014. We know because on Friday night, Rodriguez finally pulled out of his legal fight against Major League Baseball and the Players Association. He made it known through his attorney that he plans to accept his punishment, and he hopes to return after a year off to finish out his playing career by playing out the remaining years on his contract.
Remains to be seen whether that will actually happen, but dropping his latest lawsuits might have made it a little more likely. At least it’s an attempt to mend bridges instead of burn them; to bury the hatchet rather than swing it wildly at anyone within reach.
If you’re looking for the nuts and bolts of what happened on Friday, my great friend Wally Matthews explained it far better than I did. It’s a really nice piece full of important details, including this one:
According to sources, Rodriguez hopes to pursue a career in broadcasting or even partial team ownership after his retirement and feared a protracted legal fight might cause him to be, in the words of a source, “blackballed” by baseball.
Indeed, Rodriguez was making far more enemies than friends, but dropping his lawsuits and electing not to attend spring training generated at least a bit of positive feedback. It’s made him seem a little more reasonable, and it’s brought some much-needed closure for the time being.
· Early work is taking place at the Yankees minor league complex in Florida. Big league camp opens on Friday, but already Derek Jeter is taking regular batting practice and going through infield drills. David Phelps, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Dave Robertson and Scott Sizemore are among the others who have been already spotted in Tampa for early workouts. Jeter is, of course, optimistic that he’ll be 100 percent healthy and productive in time for Opening Day.
· One more big event before spring training: The Yankees have announced an introductory press conference for Masahiro Tanaka on Tuesday afternoon. If anyone would like to come to my apartment and pack for me while I’m at the presser, that would be fine by me. I’m flying to Tampa the next morning.
· Both Brett Gardner and David Cone were honored at the Thurman Munson Awards Dinner. Gardner admitted being surprised by the Yankees signing of Jacoby Ellsbury, but said he’s “looking forward to playing alongside him and pushing each other and getting the best out of each other.” Cone had plenty of kind words to say about the Tanaka signing.
· The bullpen market got much, much thinner in the past week. After Fernando Rodney signed with the Mariners, guys like Mitchell Boggs, Francisco Rodriguez, Pat Neschek and Luis Ayala signed deals (with teams other than the Yankees). Also, Bronson Arroyo became the latest significant starting pitcher to sign. He went to Arizona.
· The Yankees added one more pitcher on a minor league deal, getting former Nationals prospect Cole Kimball on a contract that does not include an invitation to big league camp.
· Finally, all of baseball mourned the passing of Hall of Fame Ralph Kiner, who became an iconic part of the baseball scene here in New York during his time as a broadcaster with the Mets.
Associated Press photos